Reading's John Swift has been named the EFL Young Player of the Month for January following an exciting set of performances at the heart of the Royals' midfield.The 21-year-old recently scored his eighth goal of the season and has been a prominent feature in Jaap Stam’s side since returning from injury, scoring three times as Reading won four of their six January matches.
Having spent time on loan at a number of EFL clubs, Swift joined The Royals on a permanent deal in the summer of 2016 following his release from Chelsea. Since scoring on his Reading debut, Swift has benefitted from the opportunity to play regular first team football and is a now regular in the England Under-21 side.
On winning the EFL Young Player of the Month award he said: “Of course I’m pleased. Credit has to go to the whole team as well for recent performances, but for me personally I’m pleased to win the award and help the team continue the good run that we’re on.”
Reading notched four wins in January with Swift getting on the scoresheet three times, which has seen them rise to fifth place in the Sky Bet Championship.
He continued: “It was quite hard coming back from injury and getting back into the swing of things, but I came back into a team that was already firing.
“Awards are nice but the whole team is the most important thing. We are still up there and still pushing for promotion which is the aim.”
During his time at Chelsea, Swift won the FA Youth Cup as well as an Under-21 Premier League title but also spent valuable time out on loan with a number of EFL clubs, where he was given an opportunity to play regular first team football and further his development.
It is a principle that is being backed nationally through the recently launched EFL Futures campaign, of which Swift was a part of, to reward clubs who introduce young English players into their starting line-ups with a £2.25million financial incentive scheme.
“It’s great that EFL Futures provides an opportunity for young players coming through and it’s important that they are given that opportunity to get going from a young age,” he said at the December launch.
“Playing in the EFL has been massive for me. Week in week out you’re playing against a wealth of experience and it’s only helped my game. It’s good to see that there’s now a clear pathway for young players to get into their first team.”
Each season EFL Clubs invest more than £60m on identifying, training and educating the next generation of football talent. There are 8,500 young players between the ages of eight and 18 registered with EFL Clubs, making EFL Youth Development the largest centrally coordinated young player programme in world football.
EFL Young Player of the Month winners - Season 2016/17
August: Nathan Smith (Port Vale)
September: Tammy Abraham (Bristol City)
October: Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
November: Liam Mandeville (Doncaster Rovers)
December: Frankie Kent (Colchester United)