The importance of lower league clubs producing their own players through the youth systems is becoming greater by the year.
With finance at a premium, these clubs can ill-afford to always buy ready-made players to put into their first team, so a production line of good, young players through their youth system is vital.
Tranmere Rovers have always prided themselves on having a successful youth development program. Warwick Rimmer has been at the heart of the club’s great work over the past 23 years.
In that time, the club has developed the talents of players like Jason Koumas, Kenny Irons, Ged Brannan, Joe Murphy, Steve Simonsen and Ryan Taylor to name but a few. And the current squad boasts ELEVEN players who have come through the junior ranks at Prenton Park under Rimmer’s stewardship.
The beauty of being a young player at a small club such as Tranmere is that there is an opportunity to play first team football and gain experience at a young age. At many a top flight club, opportunities for their homegrown teenagers are often limited due to the sizes of squads and managers being under a great deal of pressure to succeed that they tend to stick with the tried and tested older professionals.
The squad size at Tranmere is much smaller and is boosted by youth players coming through and up into the first team squad. And the motto at the club seems to be ‘if they’re good enough, they’re old enough’ and young players have always been given an opportunity to shine at an early age.
Les Parry, this season, is reaping the rewards of the success of the youth program in place at Prenton Park. With a lot of experienced players suffering injuries at the start of the season, there has been a very youthful look to the Tranmere team in recent weeks.
Dale Jennings is just 17 and has been given his chance to play in the first team and has grasped it with both hands, while 18-year-old goalkeeper Joe Collister has also shown that when called upon, he is more than capable of stepping into action and performing well for the team.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.