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Positive week for Academy

Academy Manager John McDermott has reflected on a positive week for our young players.

Academy Manager John McDermott has reflected on a positive week for our young players.

Steven Caulker, Ryan Mason, Dean Parrett and Adam Smith helped England Under-19s qualify for the Elite round of the European Championships with three wins out of three in Slovenia.

Meanwhile, First Year winger Paul McBride made it into the Republic of Ireland Under-18s squad for friendlies against Turkey.

Sam Cox made his Football League debut for Cheltenham and John was particularly impressed with an in-house practice match at Spurs Lodge on Tuesday- where midfielder John Bostock made his first appearance of the season after injury.

And that's not forgetting the Under-18 team, who again started with six First Year players and went 2-0 up against all-conquering Leicester City, who eventually hit back to win their eighth game in eight this season.

John said: "I'm really pleased for the Under-19 lads, they played in very competitive matches in tough conditions in Slovenia and came through well.

Adam Smith

"Adam was carrying an injury for the early part of that tournament but managed to play 90 minutes in the final game against Slovakia on Wednesday.

"Ryan won two caps, scored a goal and made another in the 2-0 win against Slovakia and Steven made his debut, coming on as substitute against Finland and then being trusted with a start in the second game against Slovenia, which was the key game.

"Dean was also captain in the first game, he scored and won another two caps, so overall it was a great experience for them to go there and be involved in a successful qualifying campaign. I'm delighted for them.

"Paul is with the Republic of Ireland Under-18 team and it's a big ask for him because he's still a First Year, he only came out of school a couple of months ago so go out to Turkey in tough conditions, a country passionate for their football, it's a good test for him.

"I spoke to Kevin (Bond, assistant manager) about the influence players like Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate have on the younger players in a practice match - the information they give out, it's basically coaching on the pitch. Jermaine Jenas was the same, little snippets of information and encouragment.

"All the professionals knew the kids' names and little things like that make a difference.

"Andros Townsend came back from Orient and played - he's on a youth loan, so he's allowed to do that and we're thankful to Orient - and he was able to play in front of Harry.

"In addition, Paul Jose Mpoku did well and he's been playing well for the Under-18s, John Bostock played his first game since injury, Sam Cox was back after making his debut for Cheltenham and Ryan Fredericks looked exciting.


"I think if we'd have said to the Under-19 players at the start of the season that every one of them - apart from Calum Butcher, who has been out through illness - was going to make a league debut, we'd have taken that.

"Most of them have made between five and 10 starts now and that's a fantastic experience for them at 18 years of age.

"The Under-18s have done okay and I've been pleased with the First Years. We played at Leicester on Saturday and they were big, powerful and do what they do very well.

"I thought we were excellent in the first half but in the second half they took the momentum and it's like a whirlwind, they get you, they play their game and you can't get out.

"However, in the Mason and Smith year, we did the same and by the next year those players had learned their lesson. These lads wouldn't have experienced anything like that and although we're disappointed, if it happens again next year, I'll be even more disappointed.

"But I don't think it will - this is a bright group and they will get better, they will learn and that's what it's all about."