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Big kick-off for Under-18s

Posted on 16 August 2013  - 15:15

Our Academy team kick-off their Barclays U18 Premier League campaign against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

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The league has changed format for the 2013-14 season.

The 22 clubs are now split into two separate regional groups, north and south, rather than being split into three smaller groups.

Teams will play each opposing club in their own regional group twice, both home and away and then play each team in the other region once, either home or away.

That means 31 matches in the season, with the the top two clubs from each regional group progressing to the semi-finals and subsequent final to decide the overall Barclays U18 Premier League champions.

For the time being, Academy Manager John McDermott's focus is on Middlesbrough, a club that has produced a host of players from Academy to first team including Stewart Downing, Adam Johnson, James Morrison, Lee Cattermole and David Wheater.

"I see Middlesbrough as one of the top five Academies in the country," said John.

"I don't see us as playing the 28th team in the league. They are a top-tier Academy set-up and that's exactly what I've told the players.

"David Parnaby is an outstanding developer of players and irrespective of where the first team are at the moment, they have produced a huge amount of talent at Middlesbrough, arguably the most productive Academy of the last 10 to 15 years."

The 11 clubs in the South Group of the Barclays U18 Premier League are:

Arsenal

Aston Villa

Chelsea

Fulham

Leicester City

Norwich City

Reading

Southampton

Tottenham Hotspur

West Bromwich Albion

West Ham United

The 11 clubs in the North Group of the Barclays U18 Premier League are:

Blackburn Rovers

Bolton Wanderers

Everton

Liverpool

Manchester City

Manchester United

Middlesbrough

Newcastle United

Sunderland

Stoke City

Wolverhampton Wanderers