Local clubs can feel the benefit of Norwich City’s youth policy
- Credit: Archant
Norwich City’s development of young players is such a boon for local non-league clubs, as Chris Lakey reports
Norwich City’s self sufficiency policy isn’t just for the benefit of the Canaries – non-league clubs in the area are happy to benefit as well.
King’s Lynn Town took advantage of the willingess of their neighbours to loan out young rising stars, and are rumoured to want goalkeeper Archie Mair on a season-long loan.
Lynn, Leiston and Bury Town will all have a weather eye on the Canaries during the summer, hoping they can persuade those trusted with youth development to send players their way.
City have loaned out like never before in recent times – and at different levels of the pyramid.
Alfie Payne spent the season at The Walks, joined at the end by Canaries team-mate Simon Power as they helped Lynn into the National League, where they will be joined by Wealdstone, thanks in part to the performances of on-loan City keeper Aston Oxborough.
Many other, more senior players, were dotted around the Football League and, in the case of Charlie Gilmour, with SC Telstar in the Eerste Divisie.
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For a club like Norwich, who have produced such Premier League stars as Todd Cantwell, Ben Godfrey, Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis, it is no surprise when clubs come calling, happy to be the guinea pigs, offering regular competitive football.
The added value for City is that in Ian Culverhouse, Leiston’s joint manager Darren Eadie and, at Bury, their director of club development, Alan Lee, they have three ex-City players – even if Lee is definitely more of an Ipswich persuasion.
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Norwich’s loans manager Neil Adams is within touching distance of all three clubs as he keeps a constant eye on players’ progress.
He was a regular at The Walks last season, ensuring his young charges are working in the right environment, with the right people and at a club which plays football that is consistent with City’s needs. After all, it’s a symbiotic relationship.
Culverhouse is a former player and assistant manager at City and a man who built a team that is renowned for its stylish football.
His boss, Lynn owner Stephen Cleeve knows only too well the advantages of being an hour away from Carrow Road.
“From Norwich’s perspective, we can take their players on loan and the higher we go through the leagues the better players we can take,” Cleeve said last year. “They can monitor the players closely and they still train with Norwich every day, while also doing a couple of evenings with us. Then on match days they come with us. These relationships need to grow and the higher we grow, the better it becomes for Norwich too as it gives them the opportunity to give some of their youth prospects men’s football.”
So who’s next to make a temporary move to further their career?
No one will be surprised if Lynn want to re-sign Power after the impact he made at The Walks, while Oxborough will have plenty of suitors.
City were happy enough with Barden’s progress at Bury Town to offer them another young keeper for next season.
The Under-23s will be packed with prospects, like the U18s below them, although that group may need their next season of development under the scrutiny of the City youth coaching team before they are sent out.
Payne has been training at Leiston, who, like Bury, have a foot in both Norwich and Ipswich camps. He, along with Mason Bloomfield, keepers Nick Hayes and Billy Johnson, Diallang Jaiyesimi, Savvas Mourgos, Timi Odusina and Thomas Scully have all been released.
Predicting who might be suitable for a loan is a difficult one to predict: much of the intel on that will be in-house: and it involves not only their physical development but perhaps their mental development as well.
Is there an assumption that a player who goes into non-league is not high on City’s wanted list? Or is, for example, Lynn’s status one division below the EFL, sufficiently high enough to do what City might consider ‘a job’ for them?
Power and, left-back Caleb Richards, who was on loan at Yeovil in National League before it was suspended, are both contracted for another year, plus an option. Maybe winger Aidan Fitzpatrick, who had first team experience with Partick Thistle in Scotland before joining City, or striker Gassan Ahadme, who was top scorer for the U23s, with eight goals in 15 games.