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Just how good are the current crop?

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I've been watching a lot of youth and reserve football the last few years and it's been really exciting to see how our youngsters have been able to dominate teams, as proved with our showing in the FA Youth Cup in the last 3 seasons. Last year our team seemed to be all about flair and creativity - Kakuta, Sala, Josh, Tore, Paddy Van A, even Bruma likes to bring the ball out from the back. From that team I felt that there were a number that really had the potential to make it to the first team, those mentioned above and Sam Walker.

This season those feels very different, we still seem to dominate teams but we don't seem to be able to really put them to the sword, it may just be that we don't have a "proper" striker - Lalkovic is as much a winger as he is a forward. It may be that our reputation has grown so much that team are happy to park the bus against us. But watching last night - another very good victory for the lads - but it got me wondering how many of that team really have the potential to make it?

Danny Mills Papoe - I do like the look of, he's a young centre half so he does get caught out at times but I think that's pretty standard at this age.

Chabola - a really good player that needs to bed down a position before he ends up becoming a utility player, for me he's better as a holding midfielder than a centre half but is very good in either position.

Dean-Conteh - Not sure, I think his strength and speed at this level might be hiding a few too many flaws in his game.

Lalkovic - Decent but he's got a long way to go, I'd like to see more of him alongise an out and out striker but he's definitely got talent.

Kalas - better last night than in the game against Villa, if he can learn to pass the ball short he has the potential

Billy Clifford - a cracking player that I think will ultimately miss out through not having a consistent position, he's too versatile for his own good and a youth player is rarely going to get into the first team if they don't have a position.

So in a nutshell and keeping in mind that I know nothing about anything (or at best very little), it seems to me that if any of this years Youth Team are going to make it it'll be the defensive players rather than the flair of last year (I know Josh is still a youth team player, but it's almost a given now that he's a first teamer).


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I haven't seen quite as many of the Youth Team games this season as I did last season and the season before but I agree Barn, bar the obvious couple of exceptions, this current side doesn't appear to be at quite the same level - although still very decent comapred to most youth teams. I guess that's to be expected - you'll get a good crop of youngsters for a season or two and then it's somebody else's turn - like the West Ham and Man Utd's down the years.

But it just shows how difficult it is to get REALLY decent players coming through the system. Seems you are lucky if you get ONE player every few seasons or so who will go on to make it to the very top. I recent times we have had the players you have already mentioned plus the likes of Sinclair, Mancienne, Tore, Sala, Borinni and yet if I had to stake money on ANY of them making it to the very top, I could honestly only pick out Josh from all of those. Sure, most will make a living from the game at some level, but to succeed with us or any top club and International level it's a big step but a thin line. I could be being unfair to some of them - particularly PVA and Bruma, who I still hope will make it with us, but I wouldn't put money on it right now.

As for Josh, he could be excused if suffering from an identity crisis right now. There can't be too many players who in such a short space of time play for the youth team, the reserves and the first team!

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I think you need a bit of luck as well Nibs to be honest with you, right time right place.

There is a view that it might be better of playing for a championship club and ripping apart that league at a young age, that way when the big money move comes your more likely to play.

Arsenal are pretty mich the exception to the rule and even they have needed to buy, unfortunate for wenger that he couldnt spot a deffender if the love chiled of paulo maldini and franco baresi came over and smashed him in the head

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A good topic, Barn, and having seen a fair number of youth games over the last few seasons too I think it will take a lot to beat last year’s team for quality. Without arguing with the list of players you mention, I’d say that Dean-Conteh is likely to improve and the flaws could well be ironed out. Billy Clifford is going to be in a similar position to Connor in that he’s having a very good Youth Cup run and this has to translate into a steady improvement through the loan system when his time comes.

Lalkovic is definitely in the Borini mould, although he does have greater pace. Whilst the Italian looks unlikely to make a breakthrough, Lalkovic is the standout striker in the current crop and there is a directness about him that I like a lot. Hopefully his goals will see us retain the Cup, thereby enhancing his reputation. I would also include George Saville on your list, for the simple reason that he is the best tackler in this group and has done an excellent job ‘minding’ Josh in the earlier rounds of the competition. There is something about him that reminds me of Steven Gerrard in the early stages of his career and I’d mark him down as the dark horse to make it long term, especially if he develops what appears to be a natural instinct for putting out midfield fires.

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