The Sky Blues Academy manager speaks about the start to the season and competition here...
Coventry City Academy manager Richard Stevens is pleased with the Academy’s first half of the season – citing the feel good factor of the first-team as a big influence.
The Academy has been very ‘young’ this season, with plenty of players playing well above their age range.
Under-18s first-year scholars have been featuring regularly in the 21s, while Under-16s have been playing 18s football.
While this may not have yielded wins on the pitch, Stevens believes the results in the players’ development has been noticeable and will be more of a long-term success.
"It’s been a good season to date, especially with the first-team doing so well," Stevens said.
"That feel-good factor has definitely spread down to the Academy. From the top down, the Under-21s have had plenty of young players feature already this season. The Under-18s have been a little bit younger as a result but have done brilliantly in their league programme. It isn’t about winning leagues but it is about being competitive.
"We’re operating a small group this season with the Under-16s, as we often do. We’re still looking to bring more players into that group and we’re working hard with that at the moment. We’re happy with what we’ve got at the moment and they’ve picked up some really good results this season. We can see a group emerging now to progress through potentially next season.”
City face stern competition to recruit players across the West Midlands but do have ‘Category Two’ status.
Despite the lure of Premier League and Championship clubs, Stevens believes that the environment of the City Academy and the clear pathway to the first-team are real selling points as the Sky Blues continue to produce almost a conveyor belt of young talent.
He continued: "It is tough (with the local competition). If you look around the West Midlands, you’ve got Leicester City, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers all operating category one Academies, and then you’ve also got Birmingham City who are a progressive category two Academy.
"It’s always going to be difficult but we’re really proud of what we have to offer here. The staff have created a terrific environment for players to come into and flourish.
"When they come down the drive and into the Higgs, I always feel we’ve got a chance of keeping them for that reason alone.
"Also, the attraction of first-team football is something we can show off as no other club in the local area gives their youth a chance like we do."