Six Academy players have broken into Town’s First Team during 2019/20
- A look at the success of Huddersfield Town’s Academy
- Nine Young Terriers have made the step up since Academy transition in 2017
- Leigh Bromby discusses the process behind player development
Nine Huddersfield Town Academy graduates have made the step up from the youth ranks to the First Team since the Academy transition back in September 2017.
Just a few months after promotion to the Premier League, the Club made the decision to re-structure its youth system, re-focusing the Academy’s efforts on the higher age groups, where it had the most success in the years prior to the change.
Since the change, nine Young Terriers have made their debuts for Huddersfield Town at senior level; six of which have come in the current 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship campaign.
Academy Manager and incoming Head of Football Operations, Leigh Bromby, explained how delighted he is to see more Academy players breaking into the First Team set-up.
“To have nine players make their debuts for the First Team since the Academy change is really pleasing and it shows why the Club made the decision to revamp the Academy.
“The change in focus was a club decision, driven by Dean Hoyle, and it was really innovative and forward thinking, so it’s great to see it have an impact on the First Team already.
“We made day-to-day changes to fit the new model, really focused on being specific to the needs of the age groups and put in the necessary steps. I think that’s helped the young lads become ready for the demands of First Team football.”
Of course, making your professional debut is a big step, but it’s only the start. Bromby explains how the real challenge is being selected consistently and breaking into the First Team squad regularly.
“Some of the lads who have made their debuts have shown they can sustain their levels regularly at this level and are really developing and improving; that’s the tough challenge after you make your debut to compete and perform consistently.
“For example, after making his debut Rarmani (Edmonds-Green) has gone on loan and has been excellent there. Now the next bit for him is to bridge the gap and impact our team like Lewis did.
“Lewis went on loan and learnt how to play games from Saturday to Tuesday, deal with the intensity, the psychological side and come back and hit the ground running.
“A lot of young players can make their debut, but what are focused on is about the whole package, taking on that next step and being able to be consistent.
“Lewis has surprised everyone with the levels he’s produced and it’s really pleasing for us to see. You can see the relationship he has with the fans and that gives him belief, other lads in the Academy belief and the staff in the Academy belief that we are making a difference.
“He’s someone the young players can look up to and he’s embraced that role. Emyr Humphreys (incoming Academy Manager) and I have set up Zoom calls during this period with Lewis and the Academy players and he’s being giving them advice, speaking to them and really building that connection into the First Team.
“As a club, so right through from our owners and manager, we believe that our Academy can really impact the squad and help us.
“With our programme and the investment that Phil (Hodgkinson) and Dean (Hoyle) have put in have helped us achieve the levels we want. We have Psychologists, a Loan Manager and so on, all of which are playing vital roles for the youngsters and benefitting us for the future.”
Can you remember all the Academy players’ debuts since it made the transition in September 2017?
The forward became the latest of those nine to make the step up to the First Team, when he replaced Emile Smith Rowe as an 88th minute substitute in Town's 3-2 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage at the start of February.
Since then, Rekeil has been named on the bench for Town, but is yet to build on those minutes in South West London.
The 17-year-old made his First Team debut from the bench in December's West Yorkshire derby with Leeds United.
Danny Cowley brought him on as a 72nd minute substitute as the Terriers chased an equaliser at the John Smith's Stadium.
A month later, the striker made the loan switch to National League side Harrogate Town – a key step in his development - where he has since impressed former Terrier and now teammate Jon Stead.
The central defender was one of three Young Terriers to make their First Team debut in Town's Carabao Cup First Round tie with Lincoln City back in August.
Rams started in a two-man pairing in central defence alongside Jon Gorenc Stanković, in a game that coincidently saw the Terriers come up against an Imps side managed by the Cowley brothers, a month before their switch to the Terriers.
In the months after that game, the South London-born defender was fittingly given his Sky Bet Championship debut by Danny Cowley in Town's last gasp win at the Valley against Charlton Athletic in December.
The defender has since gone out on loan to Sky Bet League 2 promotion-chasing Swindon Town to gain a regular experience of First Team football.
Like Rarmani, Jaden started at left-back in Huddersfield Town’s Carabao Cup match against Lincoln City back in August.
He impressed in that match and was handed his Sky Bet Championship debut by Mark Hudson against Reading later that month.
Jaden embraced the new challenge and has gone on to make 16 appearances for the Terriers during the current campaign.
Huddersfield-born goalkeeper Ryan Schofield also made his First Team debut in the Carabao Cup tie with Lincoln City, earlier this season.
In October, the goalkeeper also made an impressive start to life in the Sky Bet Championship, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on his league debut for the Club.
He’s now on loan at Scottish Premiership side Livingston to gain further experiences of playing regular senior football.
The midfielder kicked off what has been an impressive inaugural campaign in Town’s First Team to date, with his debut in the 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers back in August.
The 21-year-old featured from the start at Loftus Road as Town picked up a first Sky Bet Championship point of 2019/20 in the second game of the campaign.
Following that, Lewis has been ever-present in the side, particularly under the Cowley brothers, having made 30 appearances for the Terriers in all competitions so far this season.
The young midfielder made his First Team debut for Huddersfield Town in last season's Premier League game against Watford at the John Smith's Stadium.
The attacking midfielder, who turned 19 last week, was introduced as a first-half substitute for Jonathan Hogg during the encounter, back in April.
This season, Matty has made three substitute appearances for the First Team, one of which included scoring that stoppage time winner in Town's 1-0 win at Charlton Athletic in December.
The 19-year-old made his step up to the First Team in March 2019, coming on as a second-half substitute in the Premier League encounter with Bournemouth at the John Smith's Stadium.
The winger replaced Elias Kachunga as a 76th minute substitute in West Yorkshire, before going on to make his first Premier League start later that month against West Ham United at the London Stadium.
In 2019/20, Aaron has continued to gain experience of First Team football with loan spells at Boston United and Bromley.
Demeaco became the first Young Terrier to make the step up from the Academy to the First Team following the transition, in Town's 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in February 2019.
The right-back was given his first senior start in the Premier League outing at the John Smith's Stadium and completed 45 minutes as Town recorded just a second league win of the season.
The 21-year-old spent two months in the early part of this season on loan at National League North side Boston United before going on to make his only other First Team start in December's West Yorkshire derby with Leeds United.
There have also been a number of Huddersfield Town youngsters on the bench for Danny Cowley’s side this season as unused substitutes.
You can follow the development of Huddersfield Town’s youngsters via Twitter; @htafcAcademy.