If Premier League clubs are to succeed in bringing through more young players they must give them greater opportunity to play and adjust to the demands of the senior game.
That is according to former Leeds United and Liverpool winger Harry Kewell, who expressed concerns over the current situation facing many youth stars playing in the Under-21 edition of the division.
Kewell currently coaches Watford’s Under-21 side and has first-hand experience in managing a group of young and exciting talents.
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He’s also seen how these youngsters can often be overlooked because of their age and usually take time to adjust to life in the Premier League.
Speaking to Fox Sports Australia, Kewell said: “The problem is managers look at young kids coming through and because they don’t have that experience they feel they’re not ready yet.
“Some kids don’t need it, they can step up. Others need time to get adjusted.
“The Chelsea 18s won the FA Cup, they were phenomenal, they had the best of the best, as do their 21s. But there’s no competition, even against PSG, Real Madrid.
“Where do they go? How do they better themselves? That’s why they go on loan and play against men. It’s important for players to understand it’s no longer kids’ football, it’s men’s football.”
Chelsea claimed victory in the UEFA Youth League for a second-consecutive season this term, beating PSG 2-1 in the final in Nyon, Switzerland.
Dominic Solanke, who was the tournament’s top scorer in 2015, has spent this season on loan at Vitesse in Holland, scoring seven goals in 25 league appearances.
Whether he can find a way into Chelsea’s first team plans for next season, however, remains to be seen, but Kewell will be hoping for more luck with Watford.
The Australian came through the youth ranks at Leeds, spending eight years at Elland Road before moving on to Liverpool.
Now head coach of the Hornets’ Under-21 side, it will be up to him and Quique Sanchez-Flores to help blood in more young stars in the years to come.
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