After postponement last week with their clash against Hull City, Under-18s coach John Dempster had time to reflect on City’s unbeaten start to the season.
The Under 18s have played eight matches so far, winning two and drawing the six, including their recent 2-2s in the double header with Sheffield United.
“Ideally even in development football you want to change those draws into wins, but it has been a right mix bag really,” Dempster explained.
“Some of the draws we’ve had we have been disappointed to concede late goals and give away a lead but there have been other times when we have shown great character to come back to come from 2-0 down numerous times to draw the game so some of those draws have felt like a loss, some of them like a win.
“But the individual and team performances thus far have been really impressive, and we’ve been really pleased.
“Of course, you get some inconsistencies with 15,16,17 year-old lads but all in all we’ve been really pleased with the efforts the players have been putting in and to be unbeaten up until this point is a good achievement.
“Hopefully we can continue that run and get a few more points on the board, whether that is in the league or the cup competition we are in, which is a league format before the knockouts.”
With the players at a key stage of their development, the fact the results have kept coming has pleased Dempster who believes there is a good mood around the place that can only benefit the players, despite the challenges the Academy has faced this season.
“It improves the atmosphere because the players feel like they are achieving something together and if the environment is a positive one then the players develop within it.
“It breeds confidence especially in the player’s that are having an affect on the games, whether they are keeping clean sheets and being directly responsible for that or if they are creating and scoring late goals, it breeds confidence which again can only aid their develop further.
“One of the most pleasing things is we’ve been up against it in terms of being a bit of a challenge with Covid, which every football club and Academy has had to deal with, but we’ve also had quite a lot of injuries.
“The majority of them have been impact which has been disappointing for the players out injured and rehabbing at different times but it has meant that there has been loads of opportunities for our under 16s and first years to get a lot of game time.
“The boys that have stepped up from the Under 16s and the first years that have played, and the second years that have led the younger players have all stepped up and done a brilliant job so far but of course we are approaching Christmas and we are hoping to have a positive run between and now and the Christmas break.”
Dempster has been impressed by the number of players making an impact at older age levels so far this season and believes the players are being rewarded for their efforts, which will hopefully rub off on the others.
“With the players that have stepped up to the next level, they’ve all got the same attribute which is their attitude towards hard work which is brilliant to see because the other players look at them and see how hard they are working and if they want to step up to the next level, they have to follow suit and follow that work rate and endeavor.
“At every level throughout the academy now through to the Under 18s and you can see with the Under 23s who are top of the league currently, we are competitive.
The Sky Blues have a strong reputation for producing young players in recent years that have gone on to be first team regulars, and Dempster believes this gives the youngsters people to look up to as they seek a similar pathway.
“Most definitely the likes of James Maddison, Jordan Willis, Jordan Shipley, the players that have gone from Academy to first team or even any other first teams playing at a decent level, they are the inspiration for the Academy players because their dream is to go on and be professionals and make a living out of the sport they love playing.
“Of course the levels the first team have hit make it more challenging for the Academy because the Championship is such a high league to get the players to that level is really difficult but you’ve got to embrace that challenge and try your best because if the boys don’t quite make it to the first team level then you are trying to get them a career elsewhere and that is part of our job as well.”