Skip to main content Skip to site footer

EFL plays pivotal role in youth development as Gallagher gets England call

15 November 2021

The English Football League (EFL) plays a crucial role in the development of home grown and academy players, new research suggests.

During the 2020/21 season, debuts by academy-developed players at the Club at which they were developed increased substantially to almost 200, the highest recorded in recent times and a marked rise on previous seasons. 

The data also revealed 81% of players named on EFL teamsheets in the 2020/21 campaign were home grown players. 

The research comes as Conor Gallagher received his first call-up to the senior England squad yesterday ahead of the Three Lions' World Cup qualifier against San Marino. 

When speaking to the EFL for the December edition of the EFL magazine, Gallagher - who enjoyed successful loan spells in the Championship with Charlton Athletic and Swansea City earlier in his career - said:

“My time in the EFL was unreal. I was nervous, but a move to the Championship was important to me and Charlton were a perfect fit. I started well and my confidence just grew from the very start; I began believing in myself more and more as the games went on, and from there I think I’ve improved a lot as both a player and a person.

“My overriding feelings are happy ones, definitely. I was fortunate enough to go on loan to Swansea in January and that was a step up; they’re a great club and they were fighting to get into the Play-Offs. I was really excited to be part of that and, thankfully, we made the Play-Offs and that was an incredible experience.

“I think the loans have improved me each time and that’s been good for me and my development. Playing under different managers with different styles of play or philosophies and playing alongside different players, it’s all helped me develop. I look back on my time in the EFL with only positive thoughts.”

England manager Gareth Southgate added: “We’ve been very impressed with him. We’ve tracked him for a very long time in his loan spells at Charlton, Swansea - we knew the staff there very well - at West Brom and now at Crystal Palace."


The Chelsea midfielder, who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace, made his professional debut in the EFL Trophy against Newport County in 2018. 

The 2020/21 Papa John’s Trophy competition provided over 100 first-team debuts to academy-produced EFL players, the highest in recent times. 

The competition continues to provide opportunities for the next generation at both EFL Clubs and invited U21 sides, benefitting the growth of English football with the likes of Declan Rice captaining the West Ham United Under 21s in 2016/17, plus Luke Matheson being named man-of-the-match on his debut for Rochdale as a 15-year-old before being sold to Wolves.

Gallagher added: “I would have only been 18 at the time [when playing for Chelsea’s youth side in the competition], so it was all about learning, and to play against men was really important in that sense. At Chelsea, in the Academy, the manager always wanted us to prepare for when we did go out on loan or play first-team football, and that was great. To have those experiences in the EFL Trophy was great for me.”


Advertisement block