Town’s Academy Manager on new EPPP games programme
Town’s Under-18s play at Ipswich Town on Saturday in the first of four newly introduced games away to clubs in the Professional Development League South.
Academy Manager Mark Lillis has accompanied the squad on the journey and, ahead of Friday’s 12.30pm departure to Suffolk, explained that the development of the Club’s young players can be aided by the new experiences.
“We wanted more games for the Under-18 side,” Mark explained to htafc.com.
“Initially the Premier League suggested we played teams from our northern division again, but I didn’t really agree with that. We want our players to come up against different teams, with different threats and playing other styles and systems to aid their development.”
Along with Saturday’s trip to Ipswich Town, Town’s youngsters will also be on the road to play Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace and Swansea City this season with a further four home games against opposition from the south of the country.
Mark continued: “These long journeys are a great experience for the players. If they do reach the First Team, they will know how a senior team builds up to an away game in terms of the schedule mentality and the preparation.
“Some of the players got a taste of this in the League Play-Off semi-final at Charlton and then the Play-Off final at QPR last season, but we have new players with us now – including three Under-16s that are travelling to Ipswich this weekend. It’s a fantastic experience for them.”
Town’s Under-18 side will be looking to extend their 100% start to the season at Ipswich on Saturday having won its opening six games of the calendar (click HERE for match reports on those games).
“We have to make sure everyone keeps their feet on the floor and doesn’t get carried away by winning,” Mark admitted. “Along with Frankie Bunn, Tony Carss and Nick Colgan, I am ensuring they are all working hard and continuing to develop and learn. We’ve created a disciplined but warm environment and the players know good things don’t just happen – success comes through hard work and attention to detail.
“We have information on Ipswich and, just like the First Team do, we’ll have a team meeting to make sure the players know who they are coming up against. Emyr Humphreys (the Academy Performance Analyst) is doing a great job on that front. As always though, the focus will be on how we want to play.”
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