Scunthorpe United’s Tony Daws has hailed the club’s current crop of youth players as the best he has worked with during his eight years at Glanford Park.
The Iron have handed professional contracts to a trio of Apprentices this year – Jamie Wootton, Luke Hornsey and George Grayson.
Two of those three teenagers, Wootton and Hornsey already have first-team experience and winger Hakeeb Adelakun became club’s youngest ever player to appear in the Football League when he featured as a second half substitute in a 1-0 defeat at Tranmere in December.
“We’ve always had some good boys coming through, but this crop of players we’ve got now between 15 and 18 is the best I’ve ever had,” Daws told the Scunthorpe Telegraph.
“The youth-team at the moment consists of three under-16 boys and one under-15 and it’s an under-18 league. The team is consistently young when it has gone out onto the pitch and this season’s youth-team, apart from the likes of Jamie, George and Luke, can all play again next season.”
“We’ve got under-15 year olds this season getting experience of playing under-18 football which, when you start to talk about progression and development, that is excellent progress. Some of the under-16 boys have impacted the under-18 boys immensely as well.”
“It’s exciting times from a youth perspective.”
Although great for the club, Daws believes Scunthorpe’s spell in the Championship made it ‘almost impossible’ to produce players for the first-team.
But with a reduced playing budget for next term, the Scunthorpe first-team squad will almost certainly need to be bolstered by quality youth products.
“Brian and Russ coming back, for me, has been a terrific opportunity for the Academy,” Daws added. “They are both very interested in the young players coming through our system.”
“Talk is cheap but the gaffer has put these boys in his squad. He’s put Hakeeb and Jamie on the pitch and Luke on the bench a couple of times.”
“We’ve got a fantastic working relationship with the Academy and the first-team is closer now than we’ve ever been before.”
“Both the gaffer and Russ are very much aware that we’ve got very good boys coming through at under-17, under-16 and under-15. That’s good moving forward.”