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Football League's hottest property?

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Paul Fletcher | 11:33 UK time, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

I recently posed a question on Twitter to find out who you thought was the young player in the Football League most likely to attract offers from a Premier League club during the January transfer window.

Lots of names featured, with Watford keeper Scott Loach, Coventry stopper Keiren Westwood, Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis McGugan and Swindon striker Charlie Austin all mentioned several times.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Southampton's prodigiously talented and very fast winger, also generated several replies. The 17-year-old, a regular for his club this season, is the subject of much speculation, with clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Fulham all linked with the teenager, who has been at Saints since the age of seven.

Former Saints players Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott have already made the move to a top Premier League side but Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has already made it clear that his club do not need to sell Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has apparently told his boss that he has no interest in leaving anyway.

As well as Oxlade-Chamberlain, you have also highlighted Tranmere's talented young forward Dale Jennings.

If Oxlade-Chamberlain has been talked about for some time, then Jennings, who turned 18 four days before Christmas, has come out of relative obscurity this season. He has made only 19 first-team appearances for the League One club after his debut as a substitute against Charlton in September 2010. However, since then his performances have swiftly brought him to the attention of numerous Premier League and Championship sides.

Scouts from Everton, West Brom, Sunderland, Fulham and Watford were all spotted at Tranmere's match against Plymouth on 13 November. What they saw was a serious contender for goal of the season.

Jennings picked the ball up close to the left touchline 10 yards inside the Pilgrims half.

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He accelerated beyond right-back Karl Duguid, surged into the Plymouth penalty area and eluded four more players as he cut inside before striking home from a central position 12 yards out. I have watched the goal numerous times and what really strikes me is the fear and panic created by the speed of Jennings. His first touch is slightly heavy but his pace allows him to retrieve the situation. After that, his control is immaculate and the opposition are clearly scared to touch him for fear of conceding a penalty.

"Usually players at our level are here because they have got something missing," Tranmere manager Les Parry told me. "Normally, if they are like lightning then their ball skills are lacking a little bit but Dale is quick and clever, while his ball control is brilliant."

Jennings can use both feet well but normally plays on the left side of a front three. He scored twice in the 4-2 win over MK Dons in October but Parry reckons his debut goal, the winner at Bristol Rovers in late September, is his best so far. Tranmere went into the fixture bottom of the table and with an injury list that forced Parry into fielding players he thought "should have been doing their homework".

Jennings was arguably one of those but he settled the contest with a blistering left-footed strike from 20 yards after creating the space to shoot with a deft turn.

"We knew he would be in our first team at some stage this season so we gave him a squad number at the beginning of the campaign," added Parry of Jennings, who wears the number 21 shirt. "But because of injuries he got his chance a bit earlier than anybody expected - and he has taken it, scoring some spectacular goals."

Parry readily acknowledges that Jennings is aware of the increasing number of scouts that follow him from game to game.

"There are no secrets in football," said the Rovers boss. "You think there are but the truth is there aren't. Dale has got an adviser so he will be told that people are watching him, even if he only finds out after the event."

Jennings joined the Tranmere youth system after he was released by Liverpool, starting the current season as a second-year scholar. Rovers had the good sense to offer him a professional contract in October, signing him up until the summer of 2012.

Rovers have received informal enquiries about Jennings but Parry is adamant the club are in solid financial shape and will not listen to silly offers for a player they feel has a very bright future.

Dale Jennings in action for Tranmere Rovers.

Jennings has blistering pace, good control and an eye for goal. Photo: Action Images

"We have not got the bank banging on our door and we are not in court with the taxman after us," added Parry. "That helps to reduce the need to sell and increases the price of any of our players that another club wants to buy."

The big issue for a player like Jennings is whether it would be wise for him to leave Tranmere at such an early point in his career. His predicament reminds me of something Watford manager Malky Mackay recently told me when discussing his own club's attempts to hang on to their talented young players.

"If you go to a Premier League club at the age of 16 or 17, there might be 50 players between you and a first-team jersey," said Mackay. "I ask youngsters to think whether it would be better to leave the club when they are 20 and already have several years of first-team experience."

John Bostock became the youngest person to play for Crystal Palace when he made his debut at the age of 15 years, 287 days in October 2007. He was regarded as hugely talented and was controversially signed by Tottenham the following summer. He is almost 19 now and nowhere near the first team at Spurs, for whom he has yet to make his debut. Instead, he is on loan at Hull. From a purely footballing perspective, would it not have better for him to stay at Palace for longer?

I get the impression that Parry knows Jennings will eventually leave Prenton Park if he is to fulfil his potential. Managing that point of departure is crucial to all concerned.

"It is not an easy situation for both parent club and the player," stated Parry. "The player wants to better himself and sometimes it is only with hindsight that you realise that the decision you make may not have been the right one.

"It is the same with our youth players who are 14 and 15. I ask their parents to look at our record of bringing them through to the first team compared to Premier League sides. But, at the end of the day, parents would rather be outside the school gates saying my lad plays for Man Utd than Tranmere. It is the same sometimes when youngsters become professionals - they think about the big club and do not look at the bigger picture."

If a club did make a big offer that Rovers would be foolish to refuse, then the League One side would explore the possibility of immediately signing Jennings back on loan - as Rochdale did after selling Craig Dawson to West Bromwich Albion. The defender was signed by Dale from Unibond League outfit Radcliffe Borough and was a key component of the side that won promotion from League Two last season. He signed for West Brom on 31 August but was immediately loaned back to Rochdale for the current campaign.

"Rochdale manager Keith Hill has got his head screwed on," said Parry. "So have West Brom, who realised Dawson would play regular football and reap the benefits."

Parry's initial concern in this January transfer window was replacing goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen, whose loan spell from Manchester City expired early in the month. Parry has since plugged that gap by bringing in veteran Tony Warner, as well as signing defender Michael Kay on loan from Sunderland to fill the injury-hit right-back position.

Parry would be very happy for January to pass without any mention of Jennings but I'm not sure he thinks there is much chance of that.

I just hope that Jennings does not disappear into the abyss of a huge squad, where he is unable to develop and refine his gifts.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Good article Phil. Totally agree with Parry and hopefully they'd be able to get him back on loan if he did go! Sounds like an exciting talent. Let's just hope he doesn't go the way of Bostock and so many others (where is Freddy Adu now?).

  • Comment number 2.

    @1 Freddy Adu is in Greece, playing for Aris, but on loan from Benfica so he could still make an impact on the big stage, though this is somewhat doubtful as he isn't exaclty lighting the Greek league up.

    I bet Liverpool are kicking themselves for letting this one get away, I think if he is signed by a big club he should be loaned back to Tranmere, and then maybe to a Championship side next season to get him experience at a higher level. However, it will be interesting to see how far this lad, and Alex O-C go, so many youngsters promise so much and then fade away. Lets hope this isn't the case with these players.

  • Comment number 3.

    The more attention on him and less on Oxlade-Chamberlain the better!

  • Comment number 4.

    The Rochdale Model is a perfect example of how things should be done. I have watched Craig Dawson a few times and he is in the perfect place to push on. Keith Hill deserves a massive amount of credit for the way he has transformed Rochdale mainly by taking on good young players and turning them into very good professionals.

    Craig Dawson to captain England one day!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I'd heard the hype around Jennings but didn't see it for myself until that Plymouth game. I've not seen a player that exciting at Prenton Park since Koumas. Every time he collected the ball you could feel the anticipation in the crowd, which must be an awful lot of pressure for a 17-year-old, but Dale seemed to thrive on it. He scares the living daylights out of defenders. I hope he chooses his next move carefully - our last young prospect, Steven Davies, went to Derby County and hasn't done an awful lot since, although he's had a few injuries.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good article. It is slightly frustrating that the Championship and especially Premier League clubs have a different perspective on the value of first team football. Even buying a player to ensure he is yours and loaning him back out must be a win-win. The selling club lose the wage burden (however small it is likely to be) and the Premier League club get a player who is allowed to continue his development in an environment that he is presumably thriving in if he has warranted such interest.

  • Comment number 7.

    you mention first team football for these young guys being imperative.. but surely with Spurs signing Bostock.. then having him training with them for a season or so.. then sending him out on loan means he is getting a full football education..?

    I think most of the clubs who buy young players adopt this type of model.. give them time to develop both mentally and physically at their new club and then send them on loan to start playing 1st team football..

  • Comment number 8.

    He'd get a game in Boro's team! Middlesbrough that is. Maybe a small step up to the championship where another former Liverpool graduate Adam Hamill is doing extremely well would pave the way for a further move up in the future.

  • Comment number 9.

    I can see the logic behind an immediate loan back to the from where the player came to give them 1st team football. However I am not sure whether it would be better for a player like Jennings to be playing every week with a side like Tranmere in League 1, or if it would benefit him more to be training every day alongside players such as Fabregas & Nasri with a club like Arsenal.

  • Comment number 10.

    @1 & @2 - Freddy Adu was never that good! Nike needed a Michael Jordan-style marketing ambassador to enhance their profile in "soccer" in America, so they did all the hyping up.

    Jennings looks good, Chamberlain is class. As a Saints fan I may be biased though. The comparisons with Walcott are inevitable so I may as well run through them - just as much pace but more physical, a better end product and (in my opinion) a better football brain.

  • Comment number 11.

    That Jennings goal vs. Plymouth reminds me a remarkable amount of Michael Owen's against Argentina in 1998. Could soon have a similar impact at a higher level.

    As a Saints fan too, I wholeheartedly agree with no.3! And that all takes the focus away from Lallana too.

  • Comment number 12.

    I just watch footy don't have the opportunity to get down to my club Brentford, as much as I like because I live in the NW. I watch my footy at places like Bolton, Tranmere even Rhyl. I was at Tranmere when he made his home debut and could not believe what I saw that day. Seen him a few times since then, a great talent way beyond Tranmere and League One's usual standard for the age he is [no offence Tranmere fans]. He's got so many plus marks and very few negatives when he plays.

    I thought at the time he's gone, too good for that lot but I think Les Parry makes a good point, he knows he will leave at some point but the big question is when is right for him and Tranmere. Personally I hope he stays a couple of seasons before moving on.

  • Comment number 13.

    Freddy Adu is NOT in Greece. His deal with Aris was cancelled and Benfica have released him from his contract, so he is currently a free agent. To be honest I can't say I'm surprised; this is the guy who turned down a transfer to Hull to play for a mid-table Greek club.

    Regardless, Bristol City are interested in signing a creative midfielder, and I'm sure that Adu would be cheap and willing to play anywhere.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with what you say Phil regarding Bostock but there is such a juggling act between a player being lured away to a bigger club and that bigger club not wanting to miss out on great potential at a cut price, even if that cut price is decent money for a lower league team.

  • Comment number 15.

    As an Everton Fan, i would love to see him sign for us with him being loaned back to Tranmere for the rest of the season and possibly Next season too.

    I personnally feel that a dual registration scheme like in Rubgy League where young please can play for lower league Clubs and train twice a week with their parent club would benefit both side. This way jennings would get first team experience with tranmere and get exposure to higher league players including the like of Cahill and beckford who have worked there way up from the lower leagues to the premiership

  • Comment number 16.


    I'm hearing your shout for Hammill, having an excellent season and has all the tools to be a very good PL player. The boy looks like he is finally maturing.

    By looking at Jennings and Hammill, I think all it does is highlight how woeful Liverpool have been at investing in youth players from the locality and giving them 1st team opportunities in the last 10 years. Surely Hammill could have been integrated instead of Mark Gonzalez? Damien Plessis etc. Would Jennings be better placed in Liverpool reserves than Nabil el-zhar?

    Hammill with his 500k buy out clause has to be the bargain of the window. Great form, goals, assists galore, skill, aggression and a good footballing brain. Most of all he is English and cares enough about his trade to have been around Dunfermline, Blackpool and Barnsley and done well at each side.

    Austin must surely be worth a bid from a PL club, another player who I think has all the tools, but maybe require a little more maturing.

  • Comment number 17.

    'The Birkenhead Messi'

  • Comment number 18.

    Why do all the big clubs spend so much on thir youth academy, probably 10 fold what the League One sides can, yet it is these Championship/League One sides who continue to produce.

    Who was the last English/British player to be developed by a top 4/5/6 premier league team and actually become a regular?

    We could argue Ashley Cole who moved after he had become a regular. Who else?

    The last batch seem to be the likes of Scholes, Carragher, Nevilles, Gerrard, and Terry.

    Players like Josh McErachan and Jonny Evans are coming through, but have a long way to go.

  • Comment number 19.

    @18 - Jack Wilshere

  • Comment number 20.

    Good shout, although I wouldn't call him a world beater or even a regular.
    Also, technically he started at Luton.... Granted, it was when he was very young.

  • Comment number 21.

    Freddy Adu's gone downhill sharply since his hyped early years.

    Couldn't even earn a contract with a very average Swiss side, FC Sion, in the summer.

    Apparently he's had a trial recently with FC Ingolstadt in the 2 Bundesliga, who have also recently signed his compatriot Edson Buddle.

  • Comment number 22.

    Good article Paul, and your closing paragraph raises memories of so many potential stars who left their clubs too young and were never heard of again. The example of Bostock is the best. Ridiculous to move to a club with as big as Spurs at 15/16. No chance of making the first team unless there is a serious outbreak of injuries or he's just too good to ignore, which is very rare.
    Personally I agree that there is a right age and level of maturity to reach before taking the gamble and joining a top flight club. 15-17 is too young, unless you are seriously talented, to go from playing regular first team football to not even making the bench at a club watched by 30,000 more people. Being so young, there's the risk it could seriously affect the youngster's morale and that talent is suddenly in jeopardy of being wasted.
    As a Forest fan, I'd HATE to see Lewis McGugan move to a Premier League club. However, if we don't go up this season I think it's inevitable. Lewis is probably at the right age and level of maturity to join a top flight club, and he'd have the patience and effort to break into the first team, not to mention the fact he's taken the Championship by storm this season, leading our club's scoring charts, showing the effect a consistent run in the team has on him. He'd instantly fit into a team like Aston Villa or even Coyle's Bolton, who's fluid style of play would suit Lewis down to the ground

  • Comment number 23.

    Jennings is indeed a very exciting prospect however he has only played a handful of first team games. Many people have talked about the goal against Plymouth, it was class, however since then he has been found out by many teams in L1 and many are doubling up on him. For his own development it would be sensible to allow him to stay at Rovers till the end of the season allowing him the time to develop without any unecessary pressure.
    If in the summer teams feel he is worth looking at so be it. My biggest worry with Jenno is that the club itself will get well and truely shafted the same way it did with Thornton, Davies, Mahon and who could forget Steve Simmonson. Clubs such as Tranmere are in a no win situation they need to sell to stay afloat and big clubs know this thus offer stupid money for them. If a club like Tranmere doesnt except the bigger clubs tap up the players and get them on a free when their contract runs out. I dont want Jenno to go and feel for him it is too soon, however if he does go I would hope the club hold out to cash in for some much needed revenue.

  • Comment number 24.

    looks a star but lets see if he can progress and become better

  • Comment number 25.


    I think you having a go at Liverpool's lack of 'investing' in young players is a bit misconceived.

    The release of players like Hammill and Jennings proves they have been very good at identifying potential, nurturing it and producing 'good' players from the Youth set up.

    I think the point you should have made is that certain managers have not given the younger players a chance. That is not an opportunity to have a dig at the club, just the person picking the team. They are different.

    Further, do you not think if Liverpool are releasing these players that they may have others better waiting in the wings for a different type of manager to give them a chance? (e.g. Pacheco, Kelly, Eccleston, etc).

  • Comment number 26.


    Wilshere. Fletcher. Evans. Richards. Agbonlahor. Albrighton. Ireland.

    Between 2005 - 2009 Everton finished 5th twice 6th once and 4th once:
    Rodwell, Rooney, Osman

  • Comment number 27.

    @18 - as Slobber says Wiltshire.
    But you can add Albrighton (if you could Villa as top 4/5/6 up until O'Neil left), Kelly at Liverpool (who not a regular previously, will be now) and others.
    Also, where do you think alot of the talent apparently 'nurtured' by the lower league clubs comes from? In a lot of cases, it is kids who have been developed by the 'expensive' unsuccessful Academies you criticise who are released to lower league clubs as it is thought they won't have a chance to breakthrough into the first teams at the clubs who developed them in the near future. A 'trickledown' approach. They aren't all produced by little clubs with no funds...the expensive Acadamies with their highly qualified coaches have laid all the groundwork first.

  • Comment number 28.

    @18. Spurs have Steven Caulker (loaned to Bristol City), Jonathan Obika (loaned to Peterborough United) and Andros Townsend that have all been produced by our youth team and will feature in the first team in the near future.

    That's not even mentioning the young British talent we currently have in our squad like Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddleston, Gareth Bale and Danny Rose even though these players came to us from other youth academies a couple of years before they made their first team debuts. Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker may also feature in our first team in the near future after their loan spells.

    I also think Spurs were right to buy Bostock when they did and not to loan him back to Palace. While there is definitely a case for players getting as much first team football as possible, there is also the case that young footballers should be given the opportunity to train with better players and increase the standards they set themselves at a bigger club.

  • Comment number 29.

    @20 That's clutching at straws a bit - he left Luton for Arsenal when he was 9! He is a fully fledged Arsenal youth product.

    And I would certainly call him a regular, this season he has played nearly 30 matches for Arsenal already, and started in both of the recent big games against Chelsea and Man City.

    Were it not for injuries I imagine Kieran Gibbs would also have featured regularly for Arsenal this season.

  • Comment number 30.

    @25. Eccleston as you have mentioned, started at Bury.

  • Comment number 31.

    With John Bostock, you'd be hard pushed to find any Hull CIiy fans who would say that he will be a star of the future, one of the main things people would criticise him on is attitude, and whilst this may have happened naturally, I can't help but think that when a 15 year old is snapped up by a big club, taken away from a smaller one and is told how amazing he can be that it must really fuel the ego, which can turn into a real stumbling block

  • Comment number 32.

    @19 Yes, and Jack Wilshere seems to be the odd exception, rather than the rule.

    Regarding the original topic, I was happy to see Jennings given some recognition, and I hope Tranmere Rovers can hang onto him for a long time (I also hope they can get over the problems they have -- they're a club that should be at the very least challenging for promotion back to the Championship).

    On an unrelated note, what is with all these amateur bloggers posting useless comments here simply to advertise their two bit blog? As if the 606 wasn't already littered with enough junk.

  • Comment number 33.

    @28 - those lads are not 1st team regulars.

    @25 - Yes, the fault lies with the manager, but the club employs the manager. If the owners did not like the lack of youth production into the first team, they should have changed the manager. Houllier was quite reluctant but Benitez extremely so. The 2007/2006 youth cup winning side should surely have produced some 1st team performers playing at least 50 games for the 1st team to see if they are cut out for the club.

    I'd be guessing that Liverpool would have the least amount of 1st team appearances from a youth cup winning squad, that being the 2006/2007 one.

    Villa in 2002 produced Steven Davis, Luke Moore, Stefan Moore, Liam Ridgewell etc.

    Boro in 2004 - Wheater, Morrison, McMahon, Bates, Taylor, Adam Johnson

    Even your template for success Man Utd in 2003 produced Phil Bardsley, Paul McShane, David Jones, Chris Eagles, Kieran Richardson, Sylvain Ebanks Blake

    All in the last 10 years. ALl the above players have played lots of PL games. Liverpool from their Youth Cup winning sides of 2006&2007 have produced Jay Spearing, Eccleston with 20 apps between them.

    Considering the 2006 final was almost 5 years ago, this is digraceful

  • Comment number 34.

    Can any Villa fans comment on how Fabien Delph has developed since he signed for you as 'The Next Big Thing'?

  • Comment number 35.

    Now then,

    Many thanks for the comments so far. Can I start by pointing out that some most amusing banter has come my way from several colleagues as a consequence of ThomasMullerLight (post 1) calling me Phil. Just for the record, my name is Paul.

    Some interesting thoughts on the merits of a top-flight club buying a player from a lower division side and then loaning him back. I think that it is often a very good idea.

    There is no substitute for first-team football and I sometimes worry that young players do not experience enough competitive football in the reserves at Premier League teams, games with an edge to them and something at stake.

    Any other contenders for the best youngsters in the Football League?

  • Comment number 36.

    @ 25
    Don't forget Martin Kelly to that list ;)
    Liverpool's youth team this year is as exciting as its been for a while now, young Conor Coady who captained the England U17 team and Suso are two who in my opinion won't be wasted by Liverpool.

  • Comment number 37.

    Paul I think players moving too early is detrimental to their careers. We've sold a number of players over the years at a young age who struggled at Spurs, Newcastle, Everton etc. The latest Henshaw has gone to Man City, yep fine they undoubtedly have a good academy but is it really helping his development that much. Even Simon Cox who was brilliant for us moved to WBA and is a bit part player.

    Charlie Austin our star striker is a cut above, his record without taking penalties last year and in a poorly performing team this year is exceptional. Not just goals, but he works hard, brings others into the game, but most importantly his movement is incredible (even if our players aren't good enough to find him half the time)!

    We have a young centre half (just turned 20) Sean Morrison who is highly rated, but he definitely needs game time. No point someone buying him and putting him on the bench as he won't improve. That said he'll probably be off next week!

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 25 again- misread the list, ignore my kelly comment

  • Comment number 39.

    I've been impressed this season (and last) with Smithies, Pilkington and Rhodes at Huddersfield.

    Will be interesting to see if they all progress to higher levels.

  • Comment number 40.

    There's an interesting debate emerging here about whether Premier League clubs' academies produce the players they should, given the substantial financial outlay.

    I agree with those who have pointed out the poor record of the top clubs bringing through youth products. The lists supplied in defence of these big clubs tell their own story in my view: there simply are not as many players being given time to develop as there once were.

    No-one could have argued, for example, with United's approach when Beckham, the Nevilles, Butt, etc were featuring week-in-week-out. But things have changed, very much for the worse.

    I reckon one of the reasons why young, home-grown players tend to make more of an impact with less high-profile clubs is that the management and the fans are more willing to accept mistakes. The pressure to succeed at the top clubs is so intense. A couple of mistakes can be enough for the fans to turn on you and the management to drop you.

  • Comment number 41.

    John Bostock became the youngest person to play for Crystal Palace when he made his debut at the age of 15 years, 287 days in October 2007. He was regarded as hugely talented and was controversially signed by Tottenham the following summer. He is almost 19 now and nowhere near the first team at Spurs, for whom he has yet to make his debut. Instead, he is on loan at Hull. From a purely footballing perspective, would it not have better for him to stay at Palace for longer?
    Simply put no.

    We hear all the time of young players going to big clubs and stagnating, but I'll tell you now that it happens every bit as often if a player decides to stay in the lower leagues instead. How often have players been talked up as having potential premier league futures after a decent debut season but then failed to really improve beyond that and ultimately drift away.

    The factor for me though is training, players at tp clubs will get access to the best training facilities and the best coaches in the game. Guys like Jennings will learn more in a few months at a club like Chelsea than he would do in a few years at Tranmere. The very best move for these players is to go to a top club with the agreement that after a period of time they go out on loan to gain that first team experience.

  • Comment number 42.

    By looking at Jennings and Hammill, I think all it does is highlight how woeful Liverpool have been at investing in youth players from the locality and giving them 1st team opportunities in the last 10 years.

    No. Hammill is a good player at Championship level and might make a decent premier league player one day but is not good enough for Liverpool even in their current state. Leaving him go was the right move for all concerned.

  • Comment number 43.

    Marvin Sordell deserves a shout, he did him self proud when he was at Tranmere and he's taken his chance at Watford with both hands. Tranmere even received a letter of thanks from Watford saying they sent us a boy and we sent them back a man.

    You can see how much Marvin has progressed since he was at loan with us he's scoring goals for fun as fan of Marvin it's a joy to watch him on the Football League Show

    As for Dale i do agree with RoverBite, many teams are knowing how he works now and are doubling up on him. he also does have a tender of going missing in games but he's still young i think we should keep him and let him become a player we all know he can be.

  • Comment number 44.

    @41 - Chelsea didn't really do Michael Woods or Tom Taiwo any good.......

    Both now plying their trade at levels lower than the club they left (Leeds)

  • Comment number 45.

    Adel Taraabt is far and away the most talented player outside the premiership (one of the more talented in it for that matter) and at 21 yrs old he is comfortably the football league's hottest property.

  • Comment number 46.


    Fact is, In the last ten years Liverpool are the worst along side Chelsea at bringing through young british talent. The stats will back this up.

    Hammill I think will be a good premiership player, although I cannot prove this now, just as you cannot prove he won't be seeing as the club he was assigned to failed to give him a game.

    My point being, he may not be top class but then again neither was Mark Gonzalez, Jermaine Pennant, Nunez, or some other Argentine who was signed who was completely forgettable and I cannot think of his name.

    Don't sign unproven players for money when the young lads can be given a chance!

    Look at Seamus Coleman at Everton. This boy is extremely rough around the edges, but in order to see how he'd cope with PL football guess what? Moyesie threw him in and give hima chance. Others such as Michael Branch were given a fair crack but never made the grade, but at least a chance was given.

  • Comment number 47.

    Moving to a big club from a lower league as a teenager isn't always a bad thing though - look at Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott for example, who are now both regular 1st team players at Arsenal (Ramsey was until his injury). Gareth Bale at Spurs, Joe Hart at City, etc.

  • Comment number 48.

    since god was a boy lower league clubs have been seen as "feeder" clubs for the big boys,its the same in every league around the world and most clubs pray to unearth the next beckham,giggs,scholes and be able to sell them on at a nice profit,with it comes financial stability for the clubs keeping the wolf from the door and allowing them to compete in their respective leagues for another season. i'm sure you wouldn't get to many league chairmen on here complaining about big clubs creaming off their best players,its just the way football is run these days. p.s one player to watch out for would be the young lad pilkington at huddersfield,he has all the makings of a future premiership player !!

  • Comment number 49.

    I really rate Cleverley from the Utd youth set up, I think he is on Wigans books now, probably on loan but recently got injured I think.

    Wolves like to bring on the youngsters & were actually looking at Hammill at the moment to provide cover on the wings with Kightly not looking likely to return anytime soon. We gave Jarvis his big break & he almost got in the england sqaud recently

    I deffo think that is a young player doesnt have a level head on his shoulders then moving to a big club too early can ruin them, mentally that is.

  • Comment number 50.

    @45, As a Leeds fan I would argue that the likes of Snodgrass and Howson are just as good and far less selfish. Taarabt often just looks to try and beat everyone on his own, which is spectacular when it works, but isn't necessarily of benefit to the team. Also we were producing Milner, Lennon, Smith, Robinson, Woodgate etc. while we were a top 4/5/6 club, all of whom at some point in their careers went on to be regulars with either us as a top team or another top 4/5/6 team and England.

  • Comment number 51.

    Adam Hammill is having a great season and without him I think we would have struggled. My only concern with him is that he drifts in and out the game and thinks he can score a 'Hollywood' goal every game.

    By his own admission he thinks he can learn more by staying at Barnsley and playing reguarly than by moving to the Premier League and benchwarming at, say, Wolves or Everton.

    I think that youngsters can learn their trade at, say, Barnsley or Tranmere and then if they are good enough they will earn a move to a bigger club. Granted, they could learn a lot through training at Arsenal, Chelsea or Man Utd, but first team football in the lower leagues will stand them in good stead for the future.

  • Comment number 52.

    Mustapha Dumbuya looks a good prospect - at 23 he is relatively old compared to Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jennings, but has been plucked from non-league football by Sean O'Driscoll at Doncaster Rovers and looks like a quality Championship full-back. Not sure if he would make the grade in the Premiership but there is only one way to find out!

  • Comment number 53.

    And how refreshing to see an interesting discussion/debate not focussed on the top PL teams, with no fans abusing each other plus a bit of trivia about Mr Adu !!

  • Comment number 54.

    @43: great shout with Sordell. This season he's made 20 starts and scored 11 goals. Were it not for the ruthless form of Danny Graham his name would be in the gossip columns just as much as the likes Loach, McGugan and Taarabt.

  • Comment number 55.

    Connor Wickham. I may be bias, but this lad really has a great future in the game. He hasn't played much so far this season, which may explain your reluctance to include him in the list. He hasn't played through a combination of injuries and appalling management.

    Watch him tonight.

  • Comment number 56.

    @26 - Some good shouts there, but Osman spent much of his development on loan at Carlisle United. It was a bitter shame when he waved goodbye to Brunton Park, he was incredible in the lower leagues. It's just one example of a young talent being sent out to a Championship or League 1 side from the PL to develop

  • Comment number 57.

    It is night and day to see the progression made by wilshire compared with bostock,both relatively the same age, they played together in the england u17 squad and came up against each other when arsenal and tottenham met in the fa youth cu semi final a few years ago wen they both looked about the same in terms of ability the difference being that bostock hasnt been given a chance at tottenham with all the new signings whereas wilshire has estblished himself as a regular in the arsenal midfield ad has made his england debut this just shows arsenal's willingness to allow young players to come through, it is difficult to decide if jennings should move in the summer, but if he does move then it shud b to a team mid-table like a bolton or everton, sumwhere wil he wil get game time and not b allowed to rot on the benchlike so many hav b4 him.

  • Comment number 58.

    As a Newcastle fan I think you need to look no further than Andy Carroll for proof that first team action is far more beneficial to a player than warming the bench at a higher level. Carroll was a raw, lanky striker with decent aerial ability when we were relegated. He was warming the bench behind the likes of Owen, Martins, Viduka, Ameobi and Lovenkrands. Relegation gave him a place in the first team and the amount he has come on in the last 18 months is remarkable. You need only look at the fact he has gone from 6th choice striker to Newcastle and potentially England's number 9 - as well as 3rd highest Prem scorer this season - to see how much first team action at a lower level can benefit a player.

  • Comment number 59.

    There's a young lad, Ashley Miller, playing at Gillingham at the moment- getting on the bench regularly with a few run outs. He's only 16 but is certainly one for the future- great skill, exceptional vision and blistering pace- I think he runs 100m sub 12 secs. Definitely one to look out for, apparently got some big clubs after his signature but he's been with Gillingham since he was 9, so don't know whether he'll go in the next couple of years

  • Comment number 60.

    46. At 4:34pm on 12 Jan 2011, tomefccam wrote:

    Fact is, In the last ten years Liverpool are the worst along side Chelsea at bringing through young british talent. The stats will back this up.

    Hammill I think will be a good premiership player, although I cannot prove this now, just as you cannot prove he won't be seeing as the club he was assigned to failed to give him a game.

    My point being, he may not be top class but then again neither was Mark Gonzalez, Jermaine Pennant, Nunez, or some other Argentine who was signed who was completely forgettable and I cannot think of his name.

    Don't sign unproven players for money when the young lads can be given a chance!

    Look at Seamus Coleman at Everton. This boy is extremely rough around the edges, but in order to see how he'd cope with PL football guess what? Moyesie threw him in and give hima chance. Others such as Michael Branch were given a fair crack but never made the grade, but at least a chance was given.

    Gonzalez and Pennant were then and are still a lot better than the likes of Hammill, Newby, Anderson, Hobbs and most of the there Liverpool youth products. In case you missed it they are both playing in top divisions (Stoke & CSKA respectively). Nunez was a makeweight, nothing more.

    Coleman played well last season for Blackpool so hardly an unnown quantity and I don't know how you can think that giving Branch a go is a good thing. During that particular experiment Everton finished 4 seasons in a row in the bottom half and nearly got relegated in 1997. Do not mistake a willingness to give youth a chance with being forced to rely on them because you have a rubbish squad.

    Also regarding young BRITISH talent. I will say again, clubs are limited to who they can sign, they can only bring through the talent that arrives on their doorstep. Most systems would have brought through Giggs/Gerrard/Lampard without too many problems but even the best systems don't produce if the players simply aren't there. Judging a youth system by the end product is like judging someone's financial acumin by how much they win at roulette or the lottery, the result is largely determined at the start. And before anyone lords in about Barca, they take in over 1000 of kids every year from all over Spain, no restrictions.

  • Comment number 61.

    the difference being that bostock hasnt been given a chance at tottenham with all the new signings whereas wilshire has estblished himself as a regular in the arsenal midfield
    Again silly comparison.

    Wilshire has been part of Arsenal for years, ingrained with their phlosophy, style of play and professional training methods from a young age.

    Bostock was instead forced to live on the scraps that Crystal Palace could manage to put together in their financial problems. Upon his move to Spurs it's only right that he spends some time acclimatising and learning (much of what Wilshire already knew) before he was loaned out to gain experience (which is happpenning now, as it did with Wilshire previously).

    There is no contrast in their fortunes since, simply a differing timescale based on the fact that being at a lesser club handicapped one over the other.

  • Comment number 62.

    Total_Football (post 55) - I've heard alot of good things about Conor Wickham. Looking forward to seeing him in action tonight.

    Adam Hammill, Marvin Sordell, Charlie Austin - all good shouts. Keep them coming. Adam Barton at Preston perhaps?

  • Comment number 63.

    Kieran Trippier is a young we have at Barnsley, albeit on loan from Man City, a pacy right midfielder who has played for England U21's this season. He has great quality and one for the future, whether that's in the Premiership or the Championship.

    Palace have some good young players in their side, Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha and Sean Scannell who all seem to have a bright future in the game.

  • Comment number 64.

    I saw the goal and thought 'young Michael Owen'. Then I saw "released by Liverpool" and thought 'DAMMIT!'

  • Comment number 65.

    With regards to the Liverpool comments , there were some problems between Heighway & Benitez leading to a stand-off between Melwood & The Academy which hindered some young lads' development, but the major benefit of Rafa being given full control in his last season was that this has been rectified & under Rodolfo Borrell & John McMahon the club is brimming with young talent in the likes of Kelly,Pacheco & Wilson , along with a tranche of even younger guys -Suso,Silva,Wisdom,Robinson,Amoo,Ngoo & Coady all capable of becoming regulars.

  • Comment number 66.

    I can see this situation from both points of view and I am not sure that the negative slant on the Bostock situation is accurate, (although I am willing to be persuaded).

    First of all he is now owned by a bigger club with better coaching and medical facilities so while he is at Spurs he will benefit from that. While he is not near the senior squad, (he's not at the moment and it's not really surprising the strength in depth that Spurs have got), he has been loaned to other clubs, (9 appearances for Brentford and 11 appearances for Hull), and of course became the youngest player ever to feature in the Spurs senior team at the age of just 16 years and however many days when he came off the bench in European competition against Dinamo Zagreb.

    Now compare that little lot to Palace, and how they have been struggling over the last couple of years. Even with Warnock performing miracles there they struggled in the end with such a thin squad. Is that really the pressure environment that you want youngsters to learn to play in?

    Spurs have a particulary good record recently of loaning players out, (not as good as man Utd but certainly not bad).

    Kyle Walker was signed from Sheff Utd and then loaned back to them for the 2009/10 season. He then spent the first half of this season at high flying QPR before being loaned to Villa and scoring a belter on his debut in the FA Cup. He has already made 3 appearances for Spurs.

    Kyle Naughton was signed from Sheff Utd, (at the same time as Walker) and has since spent time at both Boro and Leicester and again has already made his Spurs debut. He played 90 mins the other day against man City.

    Paul Jose M'poku is currently on loan at Orient and the loan has been extended to the end of the season.

    Harry Kane is at Norwich and although he didn't get on, was on the bench as Orient beat Norwich.

    Steven Caulker spent the whole of last season at Yeovil and has become a regular in the Bristol City team this season.

    Jonathan Obika has spent time on loan at Yeovil, Millwall, Palace and has just gone to Peterborough.

    Adam Smith is currently on loan at Bournemouth and featured in their senior team in the FA Cup at the weekend.

    David Button played against Smiths Bournemouth for Plymouth and has so far featured in the senior team for Grays Athletic, Bournemouth, Luton, Dag & Red, Crewe,and Shrewsbury.

    Now look at that little lot, and then add in the quality of player and the wealth of experience that he is likely to be training with at Spurs and tell me that being bought by a big club and then being loaned out to another club at a lower level is not good for their development.

    The names mentioned as previously coming from Southampton ahead of the kid with the long name, (sorry), are Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott. Now both had very slow starts at their new big Premiership clubs but I would suggest that this has actually stood them in very good stead as they both seem enormously level-headed individuals, (quite surprising seeing all the pressure that they have been under really). Wallcott was selected in a World Cup squad when he was nowhere near good enough and then left out of the next one when he should have been a nailed on certainty and Bale featured in something like 24 Premiership games before he finished on the winning side. Now he is being touted by many as one of the better players on the European and World stage.

    Now you tell me where the development of these players has been lacking?

    I can go further if you want.

    Danny Rose, (he of the belter on debut against Arsenal in the Cup), has spent time at Watford, Peterborough, and Bristol City, (featuring in the senior team for all).

    Andros Townsend made his Spurs debut at the weekend in the Cup, (and scored the opener), after impressive spells at Yeovil, Orient, MK DOns and Ipswich.

    I'm sure there are others but I can't think of the names off the top of my head.

    I am not saying that all clubs use their young players intelligently in this way, and certainly Spurs are still behind the likes of Man Utd in this area, but they are still doing not bad at all.

    Players that have recently left Spurs and moved on to good clubs are also in quite good evidence at the moment, (Tarrabt at QPR and Gunter at Forest for example).

    Moving away at Spurs a little, as an ex barnet supporter I am dismayed at the lack of progress and opportunity that the excellent young Josh Wright has been given at Scunthorpe, (he of the belter against Man Utd earlier in the season). A change in manager has not helped but just look what some loan-time has done to Freddy Sears, (also recently at Scunthorpe), and who has now returned and is already impacting on the Senior West Ham squad in the Premiership.

    I think a lot of it is down to the manager at the owning club, but also that they are sent to the correct loanee club, (where they will get opportunities).

    Players who can perform in the Premiership at such a young age are not very common. Rooneys debut goal against Arsenal lives long in the memory and a few of the Everton youngsters made big early impacts only to drift away too. Being bought by a big club and then loaned out would seem to be the idea development for many.

  • Comment number 67.

    # 66. At 7:43pm on 12 Jan 2011, Jimbokav1971 (awaiting moderation)

    Where's my comment?All new members are pre-moderated initially, which means that there will be a short delay between when you post your comment and when it appears while one of our moderators checks it.

    That's very strange.

    None of my recent comments have been moderated like this and I don't think I have posted anything that requires moderation....

    Oh well.


  • Comment number 68.

    I'm a Watford fan (I thought I'd declare my interest, as it were, before listing a few prospects).

    In and around our first team at the moment, we have countless hot prospects. One of the only good things about being in dire financial straits has been that we have had to look within our youth system and at comparatively cheap young players, rather than splashing the cash on big names.

    The result so far has been very pleasing.

    In terms of names, I'd suggest four in particular to look out for: Marvin Sordell, Matty Whichelow, Gavin Massey and Sean Murray. At least one of those will make it very big indeed.

  • Comment number 69.

    Just remember guys when Jennings is playing for England in the 2018 World Cup. We, Tranmere produced this talent. He came through our Youth System not Liverpool's.

    No doubt we'll hear Liverpool fans saying "He played for us first, we made him who he is" Which they never. Liverpool gave up on this talent an we took him in and showed faith in this youngster and hopefully when his time does come to leave he makes us over 1mil

  • Comment number 70.

    Okay as a saints fan Chamberlain is one of the obvious stand out prospects however I think it's also worth giving Adam Lallana a mention. Although at twenty two he isnt exactly at the start of his career he is developing brilliantly over the past few seasons and wouldn't look out of place in a premiership side (something I think rival league one fans would happily vouch for and likely wish for!).

  • Comment number 71.

    have a look at this video on youtube of dale jennings and you can really see his quality, for a lad just turned 18!

  • Comment number 72.

    67. At 7:44pm on 12 Jan 2011, Jimbokav1971 wrote:
    # 66. At 7:43pm on 12 Jan 2011, Jimbokav1971 (awaiting moderation)

    Where's my comment?All new members are pre-moderated initially, which means that there will be a short delay between when you post your comment and when it appears while one of our moderators checks it.

    That's very strange.

    None of my recent comments have been moderated like this and I don't think I have posted anything that requires moderation....

    Oh well.



    Probably cause you wrote an entire essay haha!!


    Connor Wickham's definitely got a big future ahead of him, also a bit biased but Jonny Howson's capable of playing in the Premiership (and hopefully will be with us next year)!

    Jennings looks like he could be an exciting prospect, the point about where a player develops is an interesting one, if he made the move to one of the very top clubs i.e. Arsenal or Man United then I feel he would benefit from the move as they are experienced in handling player development but if for example he moved to someone like Wigan i.e. Victor Moses (I know he's injured at the moment) but I feel that would hinder his development somewhat as he wouldn't be playing week in week out and wouldnt necessarily be getting coached at a much greater standard and being able to be afforded the individual focus and attention Man U or Arsenal's vast number of coaches could give him!

  • Comment number 73.

    60. At 6:24pm on 12 Jan 2011, hackerjack wrote:

    And before anyone lords in about Barca, they take in over 1000 of kids every year from all over Spain, no restrictions.

    Well, I'll do just that !

    It's true that there are no catchment areas for Spanish clubs, but what is one of the main factors that people lavish praise upon this current Barcelona for ? The number of local players and the La Masia training facility and coaching.

    Of the current Barcelona team, only Andrés Iniesta, who is from Albacete, is not a local player who has come through this system.

    Obviously, Messi, being Argentinian, is not local by birth, but he is local to the area by residency and his parents' emigration, in the same way that Fabrice Muamba - whose parents emigrated from the DR Congo to the UK, and, specifically London, when he was 9 - was a local player when he played in the Arsenal youth team.

    Xavi, Puyol, Piqué, Valdés and Bojan, are all local lads who came through the Barça education at La Masia.

    Busquets ( although local born ), Pedro and Jeffrén, were all signed when they were about 17 or 18, the same way that any English club can sign players of this age from any part of the country.

    This myth that an English side couldn't assemble a team of this calibre, is just that: a myth.

    The one exception would be Iniesta; but considering that he signed for Barcelona in 1999 ( 5 or 6 years before these rules came in to place in the UK ), then an English side could have benefited in a comparable way, à la Manchester United and Beckham ( who lived well outside United's current catchment area ).

    Also, another point about this 90-minutes travelling rule that the FA has in place for club's academies and catchment areas, is that it only applies to the English FA.

    As far as I know, there is nothing to stop any club in England poaching a good young player from one of the other three constituent countries within the UK.

    Spain wouldn't have this luxury of some regions and provinces not being officially regarded as ''Spain''.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think the best method when looking at developing a youngster be it someone who's come through the academy or someone you've signed would be if you could arrange a situation where you loan the player to a lower division club to gain first team experience in competitive matches but have him train with your own first team squad (obviously this wouldn't always be practical or feasible - it would need to be a relatively local club) - but this ploy has been used in the past and would then see the player and club get the best of both - competitive first team action and training with top level coaches and players to help develop their game...

    Spurs fans correct me if I'm wrong but I think initially when Taarabt went on loan to QPR last season this is what he did.....if not there are other examples but none that instantly spring to mind

  • Comment number 75.

    The trouble with some players like John Bostock, is that they are signed by a big club when they are too young - but I'm not talking about a stifling of talent here - rather the fact that people that age don't always have a mature head on their shoulders.

    What is euphemistically referred to as an ''attitude problem'', really means that they think they've made it, have a big-head, and are extremely arrogant, and not necessarily committed to the hard graft that is required to make it to the top as a professional sportsman.

    I don't entirely blame the young players for this; if I had been signed by a top team when I was that age, then I may well have adopted a similar attitude without even knowing it.

    The fact of the matter is that 15 or 16 year olds aren't emotionally mature, and I think that this aspect of their development - as much as the progression of their footballing ability and technique - needs to be dealt with as seriously by clubs who sign these youngsters.

    Jay Bothroyd is a prime example: Known to have an 'attitude' at Arsenal, he was turfed out years ago.

    After a spell in Italy, and experiences with mid-table Premiership clubs, he has matured as a person, and is probably in the best form of his life at the moment - including being capped by England, which would've seen impossible only a couple of years ago.

    Now, if he had been able to be nurtured better in his younger days, then we may be talking about a seriously good striker !

  • Comment number 76.

    @41 hackerjack you sound just like a young players agent. IMHO agents can be a curse towards young players as they mess their heads up with talk of money. They never appear to seem to help with develoment of football ability, they just seem to want to increase their own Bank balance. If you are not an agent then sorry to you personally, I still dislike agents though.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm glad nobody has mentioned Andy King at Leicester yet...

  • Comment number 78.

    @74 At Spurs I think i'm right in saying that many of the young players out on loan are on what the club call a 'Youth Loan', where they play for the team they are on loan for but also train with Spurs for 2 or 3 days a week to keep track of their progress.

    I think it's also fair from most of the comments here that attitude plays a big part with young players. Take 4 young Spurs players for example.

    1. Gareth Bale. Signed for big money and had huge hype about him, went straight into the team and due to injuries and poor form of the team at the time was unlucky. But given time and a chance he's kicked on and much has been made of him working hard on the training pitch and working for the team.

    2. Adel Taarabt. Arrived being dubbed the 'new Zidane'. Talk about a massive ego rub for an 18-19 year old. Apparently had a big attitude issue and also refused to play in some reserve team matches. Sent on loan I guess in hope he'd gain experience and calm down. Seemed to enjoy playing as QPR's main man yet claimed Madrid and Barca were in for him. Eventually seems Spurs had enough and couldn't make him the main man and rightly so and went to Rangers and has done well and it'll be interesting to see how he does in the premier league, especially if they are in a relegation scrap.

    3. John Bostock. Arrived with massive hype again, loaned out to Brentford and apparently threw his toys out the pram after starting well. Then seemingly has done the same with Hull. If he calms his supposed attitude he might be alright.

    4. Steven Caulker. Came through the youth system, loaned out to Yeovil under frankly no spotlight at all. Scooped their end of season awards and is now making strides with Bristol City.

    Effectively my point is that I don't think it really makes a huge difference whether players leave a lower league club or not at a young age, but I think it's up to the signing club and the those around the player to help mature the player mentally as well as just on the pitch if they are going to get anywhere. I think Spurs are fairly hit and miss at the moment with it but hopefully we are getting somewhere.

  • Comment number 79.

    75. At 11:35pm on 12 Jan 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    including being capped by England, which would've seen impossible only a couple of years ago.

    Which would've SEEMED impossible.

    My apologies. :p

  • Comment number 80.

    One to keep an eye out for is a kid named Lyle Della-Verde at Southend. He was an unused sub in our FA cup game this year at only 15 years old. He has already broken into the under 18's side and has caused a vast number of top Premier League clubs to send scouts to pretty much every game he is involved in! The best thing for us is that he has already signed a youth scholarship with the club and a professional contract has already been tabled for when he turns 17.

    Also Kane Ferdinand (a relative of Rio and Anton) has just made the break through at Southend making a number of first team appearances in recent weeks and at only 18 looks to have a great future ahead of him.

    I would also just like to say a massive congratulations to the Southend Youth team who beat Coventry (a Premier Acamdemy Team) 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup to reach the last 16 of the competition. Hopefully a few more of those players can push on to the first team!

  • Comment number 81.


    Coleman played in Europe and in the PL before moving to Blackpool. Yes the experiment with the likes of Branch, Jeffers, Cadamarteri, Ball, Dunne and McCann was necessity due to the poor squad we had at the time. But we were also on the verge of being left high and dry by Peter Johnson, in masses of debt. I thank god that we used these youth players, all of whom have gone onto have solid careers, (Branch, Jeffers, Dunne and McCann all won International caps) rather than laying money out on expensive unproven foreign players.

    Unfortunately Walter Smith indulged in this transfer system. Sold the younger players and the likes of Leighton Baines, Jay McEvely, Joey Barton were allowed to leave the youth system.

    @56 - Agreed, the Loans at Carlisle and Derby were hugely important for Osman.I can imagine how good he would be in the lower leagues, he is extremely skillful and inventive but his slight frame sometimes holds him back in the PL. Osman had suffered terrible injuries as a youth player (i'm sure he injured his cruciate ligament in the youth cup final) and could have got his chance a lot sooner, but the league experience was crucial in him becoming the player he is today. I'd like to see him in an England shirt because with the protection from referees he'd get as well as more time and space I think he could be an asset.

  • Comment number 82.

    Spot on about Craig Dawson with West Brom loaning him straight back back to the Dale. I've watched him continue to develop this season following the step up to League One and he is getting better and better.

  • Comment number 83.

    The two players you mention Paul (or should that be Phil…:)) highlight to me, as a lower league fan, how bizarre the world of top flight football can be. OK, I am of course biased and have formulated an opinion of Dale over a number of games that I have been to, whereas I’ve only seen Chamberlain on TV, but to me you can certainly put them in the same bracket. Have you any idea then why Chamberlain is described in the gossip columns as ‘the £10m-rated Southampton star’, while most Rovers fans would probably accept Jenno going for £1m – a tenth of the price?

    I’d like to see him stay ‘til the summer, then loaned back to us the following year and with a decent sell-on. While he’s not the finished article, he has the potential to go as far as he wants – and seems to possess the right attitude and a sensible head on his shoulders…we’ll just have to see if that remains the case if a big-money offer comes in for him.

  • Comment number 84.

    A very interesting article. As an MK Dons fan who travelled to Prenton Park back in October, I was really impressed with Jennings. One of his goals that day was easily the best I've seen scored against us all season. He ran rings around our full back who had a terrible game and was taken off after 20 minutes.

    He certainly looks a good prospect and could definitely play at a higher level, I'm just crossing my fingers he has a quiet game in the return fixture on Saturday.

  • Comment number 85.

    83. dannytrfc. Fair shout. As a saints fan I'd say our Alex is a better prospect but £9 million worth of better I certainly wouldn't say so! Don't get me wrong the lad brings the same excitement as the likes of Gareth and Theo did however I think this, coupled with the difference in the financial situation and amibtions of the two clubs, explain the difference in price. Take the Liebhers out the equation and we'd probably take a few million with fees. Take the record for producing youth talent and we'd probably take something more similar to the fee you mentioned for Jenning. It's a funny old world but, as Ken Bates said (or words to this effect), paying £30 million for a player doesnt make him any better it just makes him more expensive.

  • Comment number 86.

    Premier League managers are too under pressure to blood youngsters.

    Fergie had no pressure and was able to make Scholes, Giggs, Beckham first team players.

    Could even the comfortbale Harry Redknapp risk finishing 5th or 6th because he played a lot of young players?

    The system these days is to buy to fit a requirement. South Americans and Scandinavians can be so cheap that the cost to buy them is less than that of developing a player - and that's the big problem.

  • Comment number 87.

    Loving all your chat.

    Jimbockav1971 (post 66) - great post. And a good argument for the advantages of young players joining a big club. What does worry me is how far they are away from a regular first-team shirt at a top, top club.

  • Comment number 88.

    LFC must be kicking themselves yeah. Its understandable why Rafa fired the youth team coaches. After all since Owen and Gerrard, who has come through the ranks? Kelly? Guys like Ngog were bought in too late to be called youth team players. Everton seem to have a far better system for spotting and developing talent.

  • Comment number 89.

    My club, Middlesbrough have a decent record in producing talent, even if we are having a hard time of it at the moment!

    With the current squad having Jason Steele, Tony McMahon, David Wheater, Matthew Bates, Andrew Taylor, Jonathan Grounds, Seb Hines, Ryhs Williams and the outstanding Joe Bennett. Young prospects like Luke Williams and Cameron Park breaking through.

    Then in recent years the Academy players to have left the club speak for themselves: Stuart Downing (Aston Villa), Adam Johnson (Man City), James Morrison (WBA), Chris Brunt (WBA), Stuart Parnaby (Birmingham), David Murphy (Birmingham), Danny Graham (Watford), Ross Turnbull (Chelsea), Brad Jones (Liverpool).

    Hopefully the Chairmans idea of relying on homegrown talent to stabalise the club, as well as selling off some of the better ones to keep the finances topped up, will work in the long run. With a local manager as well.

  • Comment number 90.

    Why don't they do what they do in rugby league, dual registration, they get first team oppertunites and get to train with the more experienced players at there parent clubs.

  • Comment number 91.

    @90 Carlito

    If my memory serves me correct I'm sure this is what Tottenham are doing. I think they call it a development loan, whereby they send their younger players (17/18/19) out to League 1 and 2 clubs to get match time, but then have them back once, maybe twice a week to train with the first team and sometimes even play in closed door friendly's to check on their progress.

    This way the League 1 or 2 club are getting a very good player and Tottenham can also make sure their player is progressing properly.

  • Comment number 92.

    To be honest Paul I think Jenno is our version of Lionel Messi (slight bias) but even for all his good points he still lacks height and strength so I imagine at a big,big club he would probably be a long long way from the first team at the minute. Staying in the lower leagues will bring this on, maybe not the height in his case; but in the lower leagues he has a baseline to work on his weaknesses-weaknesses that will be massively exposed in the Premier league when your not the finished article.
    Totally agree with RoverBite @ 23. Jenno is probably the best talent I've seen come through at Prenton Park but the likelihood is that a Premiership side will come in for him an offer us a couple of hundred thousand with a silly add on like an extra hundred grand when he plays umpteen times for England and the club will snatch their hand off because we need the revenue. Seen it happen so many times at Tranmere with Simonson, Davies,etc.
    Dannytrfc @ 83 has said most Rovers fans would expect a million,which I hope would be a minimum for Jenno but in reality we'll probably get nothing near that figure.

  • Comment number 93.


    Wow, that Jennings looks impressive! Great goals, great touch! He does seem a hot prospect. Thanks for posting the vid. Excited to see how he develops.

    Don't get to see much lower league football since my move but I've been hearing many a good thing about players like Alex O-C, Connor Wickham etc

    As for developing youngsters, don't they have a model in Spain where the B-team/reserves play in the lower leagues allowing for them to get proper first team action?
    Obviously, introducing this would cause a lot of problems as how do you get, say, my team's (arsenal) second string into competitive football. You'd have to replace an already existing team in the football league which would be ridiculous. Maybe they could start at the very bottom of the footballing ladder and see if they could work their way up! Would definitely be good for developing young talent and allowing them to play competitive football! Anyway, just a (not yet very well thought through) thought

  • Comment number 94.


    Regarding your comment on Jennings (and I've only seen one youtube clip of him, so don't know how he's really doing) i think it's one of the major flaws of English football; concentrating on height and strength! We seem to be so focussed on physical attributes and ignoring raw talent here!

    Look at the Barca squad... Pedro, Iniesta(!!), Messi, and Sneijder in Holland, and Wilshire at Arsenal. All diminutive, skinny players but with real talent. I don't think we should be concentrating on beafing them up but more on developing their technique and vision! A true flaw in our English mentality if you ask me

  • Comment number 95.


    I've often that clubs should have a B team in the lower leagues, I think Barry Fry is also an advocate of this as well, as younger players would benefit from player proper competetive football rather than playing in the reserves. Obviously they would start at the bottom and work up and see how far they could go.

  • Comment number 96.

    Think its funny how a lot of people comment on blogs done on Liverpool and Man United etc. complaining how BBC writers never cover lower leagues or any interesting or different topics and yet they attract hundreds and hundreds of comment but when one of the most interesting and well written blogs is published it attracts a lot less interest and debate.......

    Good piece Paul and the comments that people have done made for interesting reading (found some gems that I didn't know about on footie manager, cheers lads ;))

  • Comment number 97.

    Paul I wrote at post 37

    37. At 3:08pm on 12 Jan 2011, you wrote:
    We have a young centre half (just turned 20) Sean Morrison who is highly rated, but he definitely needs game time. No point someone buying him and putting him on the bench as he won't improve. That said he'll probably be off next week!

    Well I didn't know but he had a buy out clause in his contract and he's off to Reading. Unbelievable. Which club Charlie Austin?

  • Comment number 98.

    I saw my team (MK Dons), beat Tranmere today 2-0, a game in which the home side had 76% of the possesion.

    After reading this blog a few days back I was nervous in the build up to the game after seeing so much praise of Jennings, not just seeing his contribution in Tranmeres 4-2 win earlier this season where he was the star of the show.

    However today, I unfortunately got to see very little of Dale but 3 moments are all that I can remember. His confidence was shown early on, taking on two defenders near the corner flag with some quite fancy skills. However later on he won a free kick from a weak shoulder barge and rolled multiple times into the area but nothing more was given from his dramatics. He did once again impress me later on in the game, as he played a Premier League quality pass from just inside his own half to the sprinting left winger, the precission, weight and timing of the pass was just pure quality.

    From the looks of things he is a very confident player with plenty of energy, but from todays showing he seems a little naive and requires more time to develop and should most certainly stick out this season with Tranmere, but move up to the Championship and most next season


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