Walsall Manager Dean Smith insists that the Club doesn’t get the credit it deserves when it comes to producing players.
The Saddlers Boss believes they should be classed in the same bracket at Crewe when it comes to producing young talent.
The implement of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has seen the Saddlers become a category three Academy in the four-tiered system.
And Smith wants the Club to boost their reputation like League Two Crewe, who sold striker Nick Powell to Manchester United for £3m this summer.
“With the youth system we have at the Club we have a fantastic opportunity now,” Smith told the Express & Star.
“The EPPP has come in and we’re now an Academy and it’s a great opportunity for us to build our reputation up again.”
“I don’t think we shout loud enough about it,” continued Smith who has nine former Apprentices in his first-team squad.
“If people ask what type of Club Crewe are they’d say they are a developing Club who bring players through. If they asked about Walsall people would say we’re just a decent Club.”
“We’ve got to enhance our reputation and start saying we develop players and bring them through. It’s part of what we have to do.”
Smith signed Aaron Williams, Mal Benning, Kieron Morris and Ben George on professional deals from the youth team this summer.
Youth team skipper Jamie Tank rejected a contract with Walsall to sign a two-year deal at local rivals Wolves but Smith believes this is a sign of how highly rated the Club’s younger players are.
“We sold Jamie to Wolves and there are a number of other players who have come through the system and gone onto other Clubs. It’s a major thing the Club has to do.”
“We’ve always been a Club who have developed players and we have to make sure we continue to do that.”
“The financial implications in the lower leagues is such that it means we can’t go out and haggle with players and agents with the prices they’re asking for.”
“The fact that Wolves, who run an under-18 team and haven’t got anyone through, came and bought one of our players is fantastic for us.”