Academy Essential for LUFC

12 Nov 2014 11:22 am, by YorkshireSquare

Academy prospects proving LUFC programme is still essential. A ten-man LUFC academy battled to a 3-3 draw with Nottingham Forest at the weekend following the sending off of Italian under-19 international Dario Del Fabro. Despite being a man down, the team consistently show promise and will no doubt be serving the full squad well as the months progress.

Speculation regarding Thorp Arch has been rife – as appears to be the case with almost everything in the ‘Cellino era’ – but the quality and desire coming through again shows what the long-running youth programme has to offer.

Though there have been hints of a move away from the complex in Wetherby, what needs to remain stable is the improving ranks of talented under-21s coming through and consistently being a testament to the regime there. Some are separating themselves for the pack, and the weekend’s tie was more evidence of that.

Cagliari loanee Del Fabro’s off-the-ball incident aside, there were some mature performances from the side on Saturday. A Kalvin Phillips double was spectacular, as he opened with an overhead kick and then slotted a sublime free-kick to continue his fine run of form as one of United’s leading lights of the campaign.

Captaining the under-18s last season, Phillips is coming of age with the new group and looks more than capable at a fresh-faced eighteen years. His four goals from midfield this season are at the least a bonus, and at best could be crucial.

There’s definitely force moving forward, as Brian Montenegro also showed with his volley for the third Leeds goal. He’s netted five times in seven outings of late and, along with Phillips, he’ll be keeping his eyes on the first team regulars. With plenty of Thorp Arch alumni moving into the top flights, there’s every possibility that there’ll be some Premier League betting to be had on these youngsters in years to come.

Lars Veldwijk’s first team quality for the Midlanders ultimately helped them to a draw when the tiring and weakened Leeds team struggled to the finish line, but with all eleven men on the field there could so easily have been a victory over the league leaders. It would have been a major coup, but the single point was enough under the circumstances.

Giving the Forest academy this kind of fixture on their home turf isn’t easy, especially firing three into the back of the net. It reeks of positivity, though let’s not get too carried away just yet.

We’ve made those kinds of mistakes before, getting ahead of the game, and even recently (as a tumultuous summer has shown us) fans have run with reasons to be positive before they eventually unfurl. However, if consistent performers at the under-21 level can keep doing what they’re doing then it bodes well for success in Professional Development League 2, as well as the future of the first string.

A cup tie with Leicester has been confirmed, and a good run will further bolster the confidence of the youngsters. An emphatic 6-0 victory over Doncaster will set them in good stead for Tuesday, December 9th.