Ryan Barnett and Ryan Sears discuss their journey through the Town academy.
Shrewsbury Town’s academy has produced a number of graduates who have gone on to represent the clubs first-team and beyond.
Ryan Barnett is one of the more recent crop of players to have progressed through the ranks to earn a shot in the clubs starting 11.
As well as making his first-team debut in the current season, the midfielder has continually impressed during an on-going loan spell with AFC Telford United.
Barnett has enjoyed his rollercoaster time with Town and feels the academy has provided himself and other players a great platform to develop and grow.
“I was on trial with Aston Villa’s development squad as a young lad playing against Shrewsbury and my number got wrote down at the end of the game.
“I came on trial when I was around seven or eight and signed from there and I’m 19 now and still playing for the club.
“It’ every lads dream when you join an academy to go all the way. You think ‘I’m going to make my debut and I’m going to make the first team’.
“When you do make it, it’s an unbelievable feeling and you feel like you have achieved what you started out to do. My time here has gone very, very quick.
“When I first came in, we were still at the training ground and then they built the state of the art training ground – with the gym and things like that.
“The place has completely evolved as a club. These days’ youngsters are getting more chances.
“You can see this year with me, Ryan Sears, Luke Ward, James Rowland and everyone like that – everyone is getting a chance. That’s only going to get better here as the years go on.
“When you see your mates every day you become really close and when you see them making the first-team and making debuts you feel happy for the. You’re buzzing for them like if it were yourself.
“100 percent its better to come through an academy at this level as I think here you don’t have an Under-23’s and that helps as you go from youth team straight into the first team.
“You either go right in or go out on loan – just like me – I still come in and do gym and you are still in and around the place.
“You are closer to the first-team here, rather than a Premier League team where you have that Under-23’s. I think players can almost get lost in the system.
“Some players get loaned out to lower league clubs and have to work themselves back up.
“Where as here if you do well there is no reason why you can’t work yourself up the levels.
“Every coach I have had in each year has given me different targets, different advice for me to improve and I can only thank the coaches – I think the other boys would say the same.
“Every coach that comes in is friendly and they know what they’re doing. They get coaches like Eric Ramsay, who was at Swansea, and he just brings everything that he knows to this club as well.
“If you look at someone like David Edwards, he has come back but he went through the youth team and made it to the first-team.
“If you look at all the youngsters who get on the bench and making debuts is unbelievable at the moment. I think that will only get better
“Dave started here when Shrewsbury were lower down, but he’s made it up into the Premier League and the Championship.
“Here you are closer to the first-team and have a lot more of a chance. Youngsters these days get big money moves.
“I think if you keep your head and stay at a club like this there is no reason why you can’t make it and keep developing.
Barnett is currently enjoying a loan spell with AFC Telford United who play their football in the National League North and feels the loan spell will put him in a great place come next season.
Despite being only 19 years of age, the pacey and technical playmaker has a bright future ahead of him in Shropshire and hopes to be a major part of the clubs plans going forward.
“During my loan spell I have developed as a person, as a player and gained loads of experience.
“I have learned a lot about myself and I am learning every day. The standard there is great and I love being around a new set of lads and new set of staff.
“I also still love coming here, but playing men’s football is what I need. Hopefully I’ll be ready for next season.
“This year will stand me in good stead for next season. Playing regular men’s football every week is what I need.
“There is around 12 games left and I have already played around 10, so that is quite a lot of football. I just want to push for next year and just see what happens.
“I think with the loan it’s going to help me massively and hopefully I can push myself and get into the team.”
Close friend and teammate Ryan Sears is another who has enjoyed time with AFC Telford and is now routinely with the first-team on a day-to-day basis.
Sears is also enjoying his time with the club and feels the academy is a great place for any young player to start.
“I was 14 when I first joined the club from Newtown,” said Sears. “I played against Shrewsbury in a friendly match and got picked up from there.
“It has been really good so far through the different age groups. From 14’s to the first-team there has always been a different challenge. It has been good progressing through the ranks.
“Making my debut here was a big achievement for me, so that was really good.
“Being not at a Premier League team and being at Shrewsbury has helped me get my first-team debut and gave me more chances.
“The likes of Lifumpa Mwandwe, James Rowland and Luke Ward are all getting their chance to train with us which is great.
“There is always good opportunity for young lads to come up and impress. The gaffer likes the youth team coming up here and training, which is great.”