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McCarthy Excited By Youngsters' Progress
Thursday, 10th Aug 2017 17:49

Blues boss Mick McCarthy says having youngsters such as Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell and Tristan Nydam progressing into the first team excites him and the senior players just as it does fans.

Downes, 18, made his senior debut in last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Birmingham as a replacement for the injured Dozzell, also 18, who looked destined for his breakthrough season until he suffered the cruciate knee ligament injury which ended his campaign on the opening day.

Nydam, 17, like Downes and Dozzell also a midfielder, made his first-team bow from the start of Tuesday’s 2-0 Carabao Cup victory at Luton when defender Luke Woolfenden, another 18-year-old, made his debut as a half-time sub.

“There’s always a bit of a fanfare when the kids get in and there’s always a little bit of, ‘He’s never played the kids before!’,” McCarthy said at his pre-match press conference, which was shown live by TWTV.

“Give me one reason why I haven’t played them before. The one that’s as plain as the nose on my face, which is fairly plain - they’re not good enough.

“If they’re good enough they get a game. Tristan’s 17 and Flynn’s 18. Both are good players, both played.

“Bish got in the team when he was 18 and if we produce the players that are good enough they’ll get in the team.

”And I love it when they get in the team as well, I think it gives everybody a bit of a buzz. You hear the older pros talking about them and appreciating what they bring to the side. And it’s great for the academy certainly, it’s great for the club.”

He says Nydam and Downes are both low maintenance: “The two players that are in the team don’t require too much attention, I can assure you, they’re both really good characters, good personalities. They’re delighted to be in and around the team, to be in the team, playing.

“I haven’t had them long enough to determine what they will require, but I think as a young lad when you get in the first team, you have your games, you make the most of them and they can get knackered very quickly when it’s Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, if they’re playing every week.

“If they end up out of the team, they’ll be disappointed but they’ve always got that glow on them that they’ve played, they’ve been in the team and they know they’ll get another chance.

“When they’re playing that’s not a problem, the toughest part is if they lose their position and then they don’t get a game. Then they’ve got to stick with it and keep doing what they’ve been doing all along.

“We didn’t mention Woolfy, but that’s a different one. The two lads, certainly Tristan and Flynn, they’re fine.

“And they won’t be showered with riches immediately, which I think is the biggest problem.

“They’re on contracts that if they play games their contracts will go up, which is how they are structured here, and that’s the way it should be.

“I think the biggest problem is when somebody says, ‘We’ve got these two kids, we’ll just protect them, we’ll give them five grand a week each’.

“And the next thing you see is the AMG Merc parked in the car park and the Range Rovers with big wheels and the dice in the front or whatever it is. They’ve gone then, you’ve got to bring them back down here. That’s not going to happen.”

McCarthy says that although Downes may be a relatively new name to fans - he was first called into the first-team 18 on the final day of last season at Nottingham Forest - he first caught his manager's eye a couple of seasons ago.

“It was whenever he came over the very first time, it might have been the season before last,” McCarthy recalled.

“He came over and trained with us and instantly I thought, ‘I like him’, as I did with Tristan Nydam. I just liked the way they came and trained as if it was normal for them.

“They didn’t stand out because they couldn’t cope with it they stood out because they could and how well they trained.

“And that’s just been the case. But they weren’t going to get in the team last year, this season it was always going to be the case that they’d come and travel.

“But they’ve handled it so well, certainly Flynn, and I thought Tristan did as well at Luton. Tristan was excellent the other night, he’s a good player.”

Will Downes, currently ahead of Nydam in the pecking order, be up to the challenge of the Championship and playing twice a week almost every week?

“There’s always the question but I’m not worried about him, he’s as fit as a flea. He came back, he flew back in from his holiday and the following day did the bleep test and he was the best out of everybody.

“That’s running, of course, the physicality of the game as well would make it difficult. We'll have players back so if he has to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday until the international break and then he can get a rest.

“Of course, the fear then is that one of the England teams will probably call him up because he’s played in the first team and he’ll go away and train with them.

“But hopefully we’ll have Emyr back, we’ll have Tom back, hopefully will get Bish back pretty quickly and Luke Hyam, who can give him a break.

“But at the minute they've got to play and I’m not going to start worrying about them. Let them play. And if they’re knackered and they can’t play then we’ll do something else.”

McCarthy says the youngsters can learn from the senior players around them: “They’ve got some great examples to look at and to learn from.

“Skusey we’ve spoken about, who is very durable, plays his games, he’s consistent, he’s a seven out of 10 most weeks.

“He has a few eights and nines and he might have one six in a season or a five and that’s his one game.

“Luke Chambers is the same at the back, a very consistent performer, plays his games. They’ve got some really good examples and one who is standing out for me is Joe Garner, he’s another one that comes in and gets on with it.

“Somebody dropped a pass into him today, [academy defender] Bailey [Clements] and he’s shouted, ‘Great ball’ and Bailey’s loving that, he thought it was fab. He’ll be a really good player for us.”

Photo: TWTD

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Mark added 18:00 - Aug 10
Nydam, Downes, Dozzell, Kenlock...I think it is 20 years since we had several young players with genuinely exciting ability coming from the academy, going back to the Wright, Dyer, Bramble days. There have been single players like Smith, Rhodes and Wickham, but to have three highly rated teenagers and a 20 year old coming into the first team squad all at once really is good. It sounds like they are all good characters too, which is a bonus. A real shame about Andre's injury, but he will be back.

What McCarthy says about playing them only if they are good enough makes sense. I have felt in the past they haven't been given enough opportunities (e.g. Bru and Douglas playing ahead of Dozzell) but we will see this season how many games the youngsters play.

jas0999 added 19:15 - Aug 10
I hope this is the 'New McCarthy'. I really do. We have some promising youngsters, who are as good, if not better than his previous proper bloke signings such as Douglas, Coke and Best. So much better to watch too.

jas0999 added 19:16 - Aug 10
Mark - that's an excellent post. Agreed.

dusth added 21:10 - Aug 10
Reading between the lines, Downes seems to be the one Mick is really excited about and with good reason. We have not had that kind of player (a Matty Holland, maybe) coming through the system. Let him play, as Mick says, and see how he does. He scores goals too, but obviously not had enough of a a chance on the big occasions, but the shot against Luton gives an idea. I like skillful players but sometimes it's something more that makes the greats - determination, engine, taking it away from the opposition so they get demoralised. (Brian Talbot too!) Early days ... COYB

coolcat added 22:08 - Aug 10
Really positive news. Interesting how Downes and Nydam eventually progressed to get to play in the first team. Previously recall seeing them play in academy games .

Pabloisgod84 added 12:31 - Aug 11
lets hope that they dont turn in to a teddy bishop!

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