‘Exciting time’ for Baggies youngsters

ALBION’s Premier League 2 boss Jamie Smith says the pathway from academy to first team is as clear as it’s ever been at The Hawthorns.

Jamie made the move from the under-18 to under-23 age group earlier this summer, filling the vacancy left by Jimmy Shan as he was promoted to Darren Moore’s first-team staff. 

It means our hierarchy is now made up of true Albion men, coaches who have cut their teeth in academy football and steadily worked their way up the age groups.

And it’s an environment that can only be good for our flourishing youngsters, says Jamie.

“It’s an exciting time for them,” he nodded. “The gaffer and Jimmy know them really well. 

“They’re in a different environment now, a first-team environment so it’s really good that they’re getting a chance early in pre-season to impress.

“To have a relationship with your players is a big part of your role as staff member. It’s important to motivate them, challenge them and keep them focused. 

“It’s not easy to become a professional footballer. It’s a tough career so we have a really important role in that.”

It’s a tough career that typically begins in the lower leagues of English football. Loan spells are so often the making of young players.

Jamie added: “It’s a positive that our boys went on loan last season.

“You can see in the way they carry themselves, they’re a lot more mature on and off the pitch.

“There will be a few players who go out on loan again. It might not be as many as last season, we’ll have to see how they get on in the weeks ahead. 

“If they do well with the first team then they may not need to go out on loan. We’ll see what players the gaffer brings in before we make those decisions.”

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