Our challenge to keep up the supply line - Harrison
WELCOME to Academy Week at West Bromwich Albion - beginning with the news that the Club has retained its place among the leading youth development operations in the country.
The Premier League have confirmed Albion's Category One status following a stringent audit at the end of last year.
The news comes as Albion's age group players report back from their summer break - a week ahead of the senior players - to begin preparing for the new season.
The previous campaign ended with Jonathan Leko making a big statement about his potential in the first team and Tyler Roberts and Sam Field also on the pitch for the final moments of the Premier League campaign.
All this week, stay with us for all the news about the youngsters reporting for duty and the coaches and planning which make the Baggies Academy one of the most acclaimed in the UK.
And to begin a new season with our Category One status confirmed following the second cycle of EPPP audits continues a development began 10 years ago when chairman Jeremy Peace identified an Academy programme as a key feature for Albion's progress.
"It's a reflection of the foundations put in place 10 years ago and built on over time," said Richard Garlick, the Director of Football Administration.
"It also reflects the hard work of all the Academy staff, often in unseen and unsociable hours, and in particular the way in which Mark Harrison organises and runs it. We've got a very good reputation for producing good young players.
"It's important because it's our organic recruitment, a recruitment we can control. It's not buying players and wondering what character we are bringing into the club.
"Our resources are limited in terms of what we can put into it but it is another area of the Club which punches above its weight. And this is not the end of anything - this is the beginning of still more development which we will constantly strive to deliver."
Academy Manager Mark Harrison was understandly delighted and proud that Albion were given another seal of approval.
"The audit is a very in-depth and detailed process which we are delighted to have satisfied," he said.
"The assessors were very complimentary about our culture, our playing philosophy and coaching programmes. I'm particularly pleased for all the staff. As manager I have to drive the process forward but an awful lot of staff contribute and this reflects on all their work.
"If we want to keep this supply line, this blood line, coming through, then our challenge is to keep up a constant supply towards the first team.
"Tony Pulis has very strong principles about what he expects and it is up to us to develop players who possess not just the ability but the strong mentality and responsibility for Premier League football."