Martin defends Academy record
RICK WAGHORN City Academy director Ricky Martin was more than happy to make it a round half dozen for the season this week as Rossi Jarvis followed in the footsteps of elder brother Ryan and became a fully-fledged England Youth international.
City Academy director Ricky Martin was more than happy to make it a round half dozen for the season this week as Rossi Jarvis followed in the footsteps of elder brother Ryan and became a fully-fledged England Youth international.
Add Jarvis' names to those of England Under-20 striker Ian Henderson, England Under-19 keeper Joe Lewis, Republic of Ireland Under-17 star Michael Spillane and Scotland Under-18 defender Andrew Cave-Brown and Martin has good reason to believe that his Academy is not quite as short of teenage talent as some have suggested.
“Any Academy in the country would be proud to have that number of players representing their respective countries,” said Martin, who missed Rossi's England Under-18 debut against Slovenia last Monday for more pressing reasons.
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“There was a chance that both Michael and Joe Lewis would be playing against Queen's Park Rangers at Carrow Road and I wanted to be there for that,” said Martin, with Lewis making it as far as the substitutes' bench as new Canary hero Paul Gallacher opted to play with a slight knock.
Back in Bournemouth, it appears that Jarvis jnr was not letting either the family or the club down in England's 2-1 success as the Fakenham youngster earned rich praise.
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“Rossi Jarvis acquitted himself very well - especially as we asked him to play in three different positions,” said delighted England Under-18 head coach Brian Eastwick after the game. “He is a very versatile player.”
That versatility actually meant Jarvis moved from centre-half to left-back to left midfield. Indeed, it was his left-wing cross that set up Scott Phelan's winning goal in the second half.
“I spoke to Brian myself this week and he spoke very highly of Rossi,” said Martin. “He's always been very versatile in where he's been able to play and that was clearly evident in that England game where he ended up playing in three different positions during the course of it. To be able to do that at international level is a great credit to him.”
At which point, Martin serves his first note of caution. For City's Academy prospects to be flourishing on the international stage - against players of their own age and physique - is one thing. Succeeding in the rough and ready men's world of the Coca-Cola Championship is an entirely different matter. That's when patience and understanding are required. After all, as well as Ipswich Town's youngsters have done this season, it appears that the unrelenting demands of Championship football have finally caught up with Town's youngsters. Their young legs have gone as Ipswich finish the season in an undignified heap.
“There's a big, big difference between Academy football and international age group football and senior football,” said Martin, as 17-year-old Spillane is fast discovering after his first league start against Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday.
“When they're playing at youth international level, then it is a test for them tactically and technically against players of a largely similar physique, but there's the world of difference between doing well at your age level and, say, having Ade Akinbiyi running straight at you one night at Sheffield United away.
“It is a totally different environment and these kind of factors have got to come into the manager's thinking.”
Overall, however, Martin is delighted at the way the Academy - both administratively and technically under coach David Williams - is churning out teenage internationals.
The challenge now is not only to ensure that the conveyor belt of talent keeps rolling on, but also that having got his young charges into Worthington's first-team squad, they have the mental and physical attributes to stay there.
“Everything that we've achieved this season is a massive credit to all the staff involved in the Academy,” said Martin. “And the fact that we've seen three boys make their first-team debuts this season - be it league or cup games - in Rossi Jarvis, Andrew Cave-Brown and now young Michael merely acts as a challenge.
“It's up to us now to go out and ensure that we achieve an even stronger group year after year after year.”