Interviews ahead of FA Youth Cup tie
There was great news ahead of Tuesday’s FA Youth Cup tie against Chelsea with two young players signing professional contracts and Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer talked passionately about bringing more home-grown talents through.
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In his interview, Jeremy summed up what the academy’s approach of “home-grown and hungry” is all about and said that creating such an environment has been helped by the support from the club and fans.
“There has been a lot made of this Tuesday coming and the achievements of the academy and today is another milestone,” he said. “We are offering pro contracts earlier than we normally would. The club are being more proactive about trying to do that. They are recognising talent earlier and there is more recognition for everything we are doing. Alfie has been with us for quite a few years, but we have got boys in the Under-18s who we don’t think are far off getting pro contracts and they have been with us since the age of eight or nine.
“There are various ways of doing it, but what I am quite proud that whether they come in for one year or have been here for 10 years, they are in a very good environment and at a club that will give them an opportunity. Mark Robinson creates an unbelievable environment for these boys to learn and the ethos of the club itself is about producing its own players and punching above its own weight. Everyone buys into it. It has a real identity and I am proud of that.
“There is a culture here that an aspiring young footballer with talent will be helped by us to get there. We are rare in that respect. A lot of academy footballers at other clubs do not have that identity and it’s frustrating really. It’s something that is missing and I believe it is going to reinvent itself. Clubs are going to start realising that they have missed a trick, but we have always had that identity because it’s such a strong part of our club.”
On Tuesday’s challenge of facing Premier League Chelsea and an academy which has had millions of pounds spent on it, Jeremy added: “We are trying to make sure that we have our full focus for Tuesday. That’s really important because we don’t want to get carried away and pat ourselves on the back too much.
“Even with the two boys signing we have to manage the other lads in the group and make sure they are motivated. They must know where they stand with their targets and pathways. It is the big picture we are looking at, but we are trying to make sure that on Tuesday we are as competitive as we can be.”
Alfie Egan certainly thinks that can be the case after scoring vital goals against Watford and Newcastle United to help the Dons get this far.
“It’s all really positive,” he said. “We’ve had a few practice games, including 11 versus 11 with the Under-21s, and the momentum we have is massive. Everyone is buzzing for the game, positive, and we believe we can win.”
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