Ipswich Town Academy Director Bryan Klug has hailed the next generation of talent coming through at Portman Road.
Speaking to the Ipswich Star, Klug insisted that the club has a number of ‘special’ talents coming through at a time when he concedes that attaining category one academy status is becoming increasingly “difficult”.
Klug left the Tractor Boys in 2010 but returned two years later after a spell at Tottenham and is confident that a new batch of local youngsters will carry on the baton that started in the 90’s with the Kieron Dyer, Richard Wright and Titus Bramble and continued to the emergence of Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose.
“I think, almost three years on from me returning, I can say to you that we’re starting to get close to regularly producing academy players ready for the first-team again,” said Klug, a former Town apprentice himself.
“We’ve had Teddy Bishop and Matt Clarke involved this season, Kundai (Benyu) is threatening to break in now (an unused sub of late) and I’m confident that we have got a whole host of players behind them that could also make it.”
“The staff have worked incredibly hard and we’re right back on it at all age groups. I really do feel as though we’ve got a few special players coming through.”
That contingent also includes Andre Dozzell, the 15-year-old son of former Town player Jason who has captained England at Under-16 level and represented Town at U18 level.
“When you look at the England squads there aren’t too many from outside of the big clubs, but Andre has gone in there and broken that mould,” Klug said.
“If the bigger clubs have lists of young players they’d like to nick then he’d definitely be at the top of most of their lists.”
“Jason is obviously an Ipswich man though so he is going to keep him here. He’s really talented, has got big potential and he’s a grounded young man – and that’s the way he’s got to be because he’s still got a long way to go.”
Achieving Category One academy status looks set to get tougher for Ipswich who fell 0.3% short of the 75% mark that was required to attain a top level academy status last July.
Of the 5,000 marks that they were judged on, they missed out by just 17.
“Our indications are that the bar is getting higher and the expectation is that you have to be really heavily investing,” said Klug.
“Rightly or wrongly, that’s the way it’s going. It’s kind of getting more difficult for us to obtain Category One, in my opinion.”
“We’re waiting for the full conditions to come out. The bar is being raised all the time in terms of what’s needed regarding staff and facilities, so we’re just waiting to see what the criteria is this time around and then we’ll make a decision as to whether to go for it or not.”
“That’s a decision the owner will make in the next week or two.”
“It’s getting more difficult, that’s for sure. For me, and this is my opinion, the judgement seems to be made on the amount of money you spend on it rather than the quality of what you do and the amount of players you’re getting through.”
“Either way we’ll carry on doing what we’re doing. I’m happy we’re doing a good job with the kids and that’s all that matters to me.”
“At the end of the day I know we’ve got good players and I know we’ve got some of the best members of staff in the country. That’s not just me saying that; other people tell me that.”
Klug was persuaded to return to Ipswich by former chief executive Simon Clegg and manager Mick McCarthy, with whom he enjoys a close relationship.
“He talks regularly with me and all my staff and keeps close tabs on what we’re doing. He’s top notch,” Klug said.
“I think he’s just glad that we’re now close to producing players that he can use. He doesn’t need to ask me whether players are ready, he’s got his own eyes. He watches the Under-21s all the time and makes his own mind up.”
He added: “The worst job in football is telling young players they are not going to be kept on. Those decision are being made as we speak.”
“The manager deals with that himself, which you don’t get at every football club. He sits down with them all and talks to them about why the decision has been made and what their options are.”