13 Young Terriers went on loan in 2020/21
- David Fox discusses his role
- Academy Loan Manager on importance of loan spells
- Fox particularly pleased with Ben Jackson’s loan experience
Huddersfield Town Academy’s Loan Manager David Fox believes that loans in youth players are key to their development both on and off the pitch.
Speaking to htafc.com, David explained what his role entails and why he thinks it’s becoming increasingly more important to exposure Academy players to men’s football early on in their careers.
“I think my role is one that’s becoming a lot more common now.
“There’s a lot more emphasis on loans and finding the right loans and I think everyone’s starting to realise how important they are in player development and how beneficial they are to everyone involved if you get them right.
“It can be difficult when there’s so much going on at a football club and the focus is on the players in the building, that sometimes the players out of the building can become a little forgotten, so that’s where my job comes in.
“I focus on the players that are outside of the Club on their loans and also trying to maximise opportunities for players that go out as well.
“I’m quite lucky really because Emyr Humphreys and Jon Worthington really push for loans and both understand just how big the importance of them is.
“It’s all about finding the right level for each player, so working out where they are mentally and whether they can handle being outside, but then sometimes it’s good to throw people in at the deep end and see how they cope.
“We cover all levels of football and it’ll vary depending on what a player needs.
“Ben Jackson for example had four months away from the building, which was great for him, but some players maybe aren’t quite as mentally developed as Ben, so that might not be the best thing for them.”
Fox has a successful playing career under his belt and admits that his personal loan experiences as a youth player helped shape him both as a player and as a person.
“I remember I had a loan spell at 19, I went to Belgium for six months and I can still remember that clear as day.
“Not just the football, but everything that happened off the pitch – living on your own and away from home.
“I didn’t play anywhere near as much as I’d have liked, but I still think that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me at that age.
“At Huddersfield there’s such a specific group of staff from fitness to medical to individual coaching to help them with everything they could ever need, whereas sending them out gives them a little sense of the real world and they take their habits from Huddersfield to a different environment and see how they adjust.
“The main difference is that they’re playing for three points on a weekend and they’re playing alongside players who’ve got families and mortgages and the manager could get sacked.
“They get to see all the strains and struggles of a real football environment up close and if we can get our players exposed to that early, then it’s very beneficial to their development in the long run.”
Ben Jackson was one of 13 Young Terriers to go on loan his season. Fox explained that although he might not have played as many minutes as he would have liked, he’s delighted with the impression he was able to make at Bolton Wanderers.
“I’m delighted with how Ben’s spell ended up turning out.
“With Ben, we always knew he was going to play the first few games and then the other fullback was coming back and so it would be a battle between those two.
“The way it transpired, Bolton went on an unbelievable run with the other left back playing and they went from 20th in the league when Ben joined, to getting promotion.
“I understand the lack of minutes, but what he will have seen from being a part of him will stay with him for life.
“Promotion is what football’s about, that’s what you remember at the end of the day and he’s got one on his CV now.
“To come back in after that time off and play against Morecambe and score the winner in such a vital game, get Man of the Match and into the Team of the Week, was such a massive, massive positive for him and a real bonus for everyone.
“For him to have that mental strength to come into a team after having not played for so long and make such an impression was something that we were all really pleased with.”
The Academy Loan Manager also took the time to discuss what he’ll take from this season to build on in the 2021/22 campaign.
“I try to get to as many games as I can and speak to them afterwards and I also go along to their training sessions to watch them and speak to the manager.
“You’re basically trying to find that balance between making sure everything’s okay and that they’re okay, but also you don’t want to babysit them either, you want them to be looking after themselves.
“What I’ve really enjoyed with the lads that have been out this season is that you build a relationship with them to the point where you don’t necessarily have to go to them because they’re happy to come to you and talk to you about how they’re feeling.
“That’s what I hope for next season as well, that we can build up this relationship with the player, having been in their shoes before, and it’s good for everyone that they have someone who they can bounce ideas off and talk things through with.
“You want them to go out on loan and then come back into a position where they can play for the First Team, that’s the ultimate goal for everyone and a loan spell is an important step to help get them into the First Team.
“You might not see the benefits right away, it might be 18 months before you see the benefit of a loan spell, but it’s all part of their learning.
“There’s no such thing as a bad loan, even if you’re not playing, you’re still getting valuable experience and valuable lessons in not only football but in life as well.”