Challenge is on for City’s rising stars
JONATHAN REDHEAD Norwich City academy manager Ricky Martin has revealed his delight at seeing some of his young prospects playing for the first team at Torquay on Wednesday.
Norwich City academy manager Ricky Martin has revealed his delight at seeing some of his young prospects playing for the first team at Torquay on Wednesday.
And now he is challenging other youngsters at Colney to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andrew Cave-Brown, 18, and Michael Spillane, 17, and force their way into manager Nigel Worthington's thinking.
Cave-Brown was named in the starting 11 for the Carling Cup clash in the south west while Spillane, Matthew Halliday, 19, Andrew Fisk, 19, and Joe Lewis, 18, were all named among the substitutes.
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Added to that there was Ian Henderson, 21, Ryan Jarvis, 20, and Jason Shackell, 22, in the line-up, players who have progressed through City's youth set up to make the first team.
All in all, it was a good night for Martin, although it was tempered somewhat by a serious injury to Cave-Brown which looks set to keep him out until next year.
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But he wants and expects to see many more City youngsters on the first XI team sheet.
"When I saw the team sheet it was a refection of all the hard work the academy puts in," he said. "To get players to that standard is a great achievement and there's been a lot of hard work at the academy by everybody involved.
"It's a big vote of confidence to them and it sends a strong message to the other young players.
"But I'm not too surprised or getting too excited about it because we expect to be producing these players.
"That message has been continued over the last couple of seasons, where we've had Norwich City's youngest ever player and youngest goalscorer. It shows that you do get an opportunity at Carrow Road if you're good enough.
"To see any number of our players in the squad is good and Andrew Cave-Brown started although he went off injured, but it was one off one on when Michael Spillane came on.
"But it gave them all an opportunity to get good experience at that level and a chance to progress."
Martin said seeing youngsters playing for the first team was a payback to the club for all the investment in the academy.
"The club has played a massive part in setting up the academy and we've had a lot more support in the last few years," he said. "We've strengthened the team and the staff and we're operating at the highest amount of staff we've ever had. It's a big financial burden and at the end of the day we want to return some of that.
"The youth team has got 18 players in at the moment and they have had a very good pre-season. I'd say to supporters that if they get an opportunity they should come down on a Saturday morning and watch us play. It's early doors in the season and we want to wait and see them develop in the next six months."
But Martin has set a target for the current crop of scholars at the club hoping for a long career in the game.
"The academy has had players over the last couple of seasons make debuts in the first team as scholars, now it's up to the current youth team players to get their debuts as scholars as well," he said.