Academy Manager Ricky Duncan believes that the level of performance Blues' under-18's displayed against Ipswich Town will help inspire the next group of players to make the step up.
“Performances like that help us with the U16s and the U15s because it shows them the yardstick for what they need to do,” he said after watching the side record a 3-0 victory at Playford Road over their Category Two opponents.
“I think with the likes of Harry Phillips, Renei Batlokwa, Joe Bedford and Sonny Coutts, who were excellent today, they’ve been with the club a long time. Manny Adeyeye was outstanding; I thought he was the man-of-the-match, and I told him that to be man-of-the-match in that match was quite something because there were a few contenders.”
“It shows the yardstick for the U16s because it shows that, if you step up, you’ve really got to put it on the line when you come into the team. You can’t just come in and play, you’ve got to be in that team and fighting. That’s what we did against Ipswich; the decision-making and the way they defended was excellent,” he declared.
Duncan also praised the facilities at Ipswich’s training ground, and warned his players that it wouldn’t always be so easy to play with such style “I’ve said to them that they shouldn’t get carried away because they need to be able to do produce a similar level of performance in January. The surface here is fantastic.”
“If we had that pitch to play on every week, I‘d be over the moon because of the way the boys play football, but we’re at a level where sometimes you have to go and play on pitches that aren’t like that, and you have to adapt. We’ve got to make sure that we do that and show the same sort of passion for the game as we did against Ipswich.”
Southend were also missing one of their second-year scholars, Jordan Williams, who made the step-up to feature for the first-team against Charlton Athletic in a behind closed doors friendly. Duncan was delighted to see the full-back given his opportunity.
“Jordan trained with the first-team on Friday and the manager came over and told us that they were going to take him for their friendly. That’s what we’re about, so we shuffled the side about. Ross Johnson went and played right-back, and he’s quite an accomplished right-back as he’s shown today.”
“Jordan’s played for the first-team, which is what it’s all about. If we’d come here and lost, it would still’ve been a successful week because Jordan’s played for the first-team. That’s all these boys want to do. The more boys that come through our system, and the more that we invest in our system, the more they want to be a part of this football club.”
“All they want to do is pull a short on for this football club. If you ask any of them now where they want to be, they’ll say the first-team. That’s where they want to get, that’s where they want to play. They don’t just want to get in; they want to play for the club because it’s their club and they’ve been here so long.”
“Now we’ve got to keep building on that over the next few years; I know that’s what the manager wants and the board are the same. Everyone wants to make sure that we keep developing this type of player,” Duncan concluded.