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'Club-developed' rule benefiting young players

8 February 2019

Northampton Town’s Head of Academy, Kieran Scarff has praised the EFL for introducing the club-developed rule throughout its three divisions.

Each EFL club has to include one club-developed player in their matchday squad, and Scarff says it has created a realistic opportunity for younger players to break into first-team football.

He said: “The model that the EFL has brought into place where the home-grown players have to be in matchday squads and on the first-team bench is good, and I hope that grows.

“The rule gives players the realistic opportunity that they could be given the chance in a first-team game if they have worked hard to get themselves to that position.

“It also directs the attention of the first-team managers towards the younger players in the squad, because they need one of them in there.”

Scarff has worked at Doncaster Rovers, Peterborough United and now at Northampton in Head of Youth Development/Academy roles, and says the Checkatrade Trophy has developed the growth of young players.

He added: “I think there are a lot of players out there that use the competition to support the growth of youth players, and I think it is a great way of using it.

“There are a lot of managers in the EFL that are willing to give young players the chance, you are seeing at Northampton where I am working now, with four scholars regularly included in the first-team squad on a regular basis.  

“I think there was one season at Doncaster where we had six youth team players making their first-team debuts in that competition.”

Sky Bet Championship side Wigan Athletic recently signed one of Scarff’s former youth team players at Peterborough United, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes.

Scarff says those kind of transfers can have a huge impact on the club.

“When I was at Peterborough United, we developed a young 14-year-old at the time, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes, who has now been sold to Wigan Athletic for over £1 million.” he said.

“Those sorts of things can be huge for Clubs, that money can do so much for the club across the board, and it can also feed into the community programmes as well.

“It can also help develop the club’s facilities and it also gives owners the encouragement to keep supporting their academies; ultimately, owners are businessmen and they want to see a return on their investment.”

The 2018/19 season has seen a lot of standout youth-developed players prove their worth in the EFL, and Scarff says that can only be a good thing for the England national side in years to come.

“The EFL is providing players with the opportunity to play first-team football, they then are two or three years ahead of where they would be if they were just sitting in the reserves,” he added.

“The supporters love the home-grown, club-developed player because it is that attachment to the club which is really important and that has always been the case.

“Since the introduction of the EPPP, youth development has become more high-profile and there has been a bigger push in terms of sustaining success at an international level.”

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