Academy Manager reflects on pre-season and hopes for the EFL Youth Alliance campaign
Shrewsbury Town’s Under-18s side get their 2018/19 EFL Youth Alliance Campaign underway later today as they take on Carlisle United Under-18s away from home.
The squad have enjoyed a productive pre-season campaign, facing opposition in both in the UK and at the Iber Cup in Denmark, where they reached the final.
Academy Manager Eric Ramsay is hopeful that the pre-season schedule will stand them in good stead going into the new season.
“It’s been brilliant”, admitted Eric.
“I think we’ve had a really good variety of games. We’ve played a couple of senior sides, we’ve played a couple of Under-18s teams and we’ve played against foreign opposition.
“That’s on top of the amount of the work we’ve managed to get done in the week, how well the players have conducted themselves, how well they’ve worked as a group, and I think it’s set them up for a good season.
“They are a group that’s done really well as Under-15s and 16s and there were some big performances from the current second-years last season and in pre-season, so the signs are positive and I’m really hopeful for this group.”
The season starts with the longest trip of the year – over 300 mile round journey – and Eric believes his side will need to be at their best.
“I’m pleased that it’s in August because last year we did it in the middle of winter and it’s not a nice journey and it’s often not one of the best places in the league to go and play”, Ramsay said.
“To have got it first and got that trip out of the way will be a plus, but it will be a really difficult game and the players should expect a lot of direct play and set-pieces, which are the things we often come unstuck with when we face other teams, so it will be a challenge, but I’d like to think that they’re ready.”
11 new scholars have joined the Under-18s group for this season and Ramsay wants them to go and show the ability that he knows they possess.
“I think this is the strongest group that I’ve worked with”, said Eric.
“There’s more depth and I think there are three or four in the group that could make a real mark at some point in their careers, but that’s on them to go and prove it now.
“It’s all well and good me telling everyone how well they’ve done over pre-season, but ultimately their ability to demonstrate that week to week in what is quite a difficult league will be the measure of them.
“We are optimistic and excited, but now it’s on the players to go on and prove the hype that they’ve got.”