Eric Ramsay reflects on the first-half of the season for the youth team
Shrewsbury Town Academy Manager Eric Ramsay is pleased with how the first-half of the 2017/18 season has gone.
Town currently sit in mid-table for the EFL Youth Alliance North Division having won five, drawn four and lost four of their opening 13 fixtures.
Eric admits that he would have like to have turned more draws into win, but believes he is seeing good development in the squad.
“I think in general the performances that we’ve produced have been of a good quality”, Ramsay told ShrewsWeb.
“I think the issue has been that they have fluctuated too much within games and we’ve had some really good spells followed by some poor spells and points where we haven’t been as clinical as we might have been in and around our box and in and around the oppositions box.
“Some of the performances have probably lent themselves to wins rather than the draw that we have picked up, but the philosophy of the Academy is that the performances are always more important than the results and the performances have been pleasing in the main.
“I think although our position in the table is frustrating relative to the quality that we have and the quality we have produced, the first-half of the season is positive when I look back on it.”
One major factor this season has been the increased involvement of the very impressive Under-16 group and Ramsay is looking forward to seeing more of them as the season goes on.
“I look at the Under-18s group as not just the Under-17s and 18s but the Under-16s as well and they are always in contention”, Eric said.
“We haven’t seen them so much over the last couple of weeks because it’s only fair at this stage of the season that the scholars, who are returning from injury, have a real crack at it because it’s make or break for them, but come the second half of the season they will get far more minutes and that will continue as the season goes on.”
This season has also seen Christos Shelis, Ryan Barnett and Lifumpa Mwandwe make their first-team debuts in the Checkatrade Trophy and Eric is delighted by the interest Paul Hurst and his staff are taking in the Academy.
“He’s very interested in the performances of that Academy players and he’s someone the Academy staff speak to very regularly”, said Ramsay.
“That’s really pleasing because it would disheartening if there wasn’t interest from that level, so the fact that he’s shown such an interest is brilliant.
“He’s regularly on the phone asking for players to train up there, so Ryan Barnett’s up there regularly, Christos obviously and Cam Gregory’s in the frame almost on a daily basis as well, so that’s pleasing and it shows that there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the youth team players if they perform.
“I’m conscious of the fact that the gap between Under-18s level and first-team level is so big and it’s difficult without the Under-23s or Reserves, but the exposure they get because of that is really good, so that’s been another pleasing factor.”
The squad are now on a short break over the Christmas period and Ramsay is hoping for more clinical performances in the New Year.
“I’ve mentioned so many times this season about being clinical around both boxes”, Eric continued.
“I sometimes feel we are a little bit soft around our own box and we probably don’t deal with direct play as well as we should do and set-pieces are sometimes a problem for us, but I think we’ve made improvements in that sense.
“We’ve got four or five exciting front players that probably haven’t had the output in terms of goals and assists that you might expect, so that’s an area that we will continue to work on.”