McCarthy Delighted With Striker Folami's Progress
Thursday, 12th Oct 2017 17:29
Midfielders Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes have broken into the first team this season and Blues boss Mick McCarthy says he’d have no problem fielding 18-year-old Australian striker Ben Folami - who has scored seven times for the U23s already this season - if he was short of senior strikers.
“I’m delighted with his development, he’s really matured, he’s certainly progressing, he trains with us more often than not now and he’s not looking out of place,” McCarthy said of Sydney-born Folami, who made his senior debut in the Carabao Cup tie at Crystal Palace in August having joined the academy as a scholar in the summer of 2016.
“I’m really pleased. I’ve seen his performances with the U23s, he’s doing very well. He’s physical, a strong boy, that’ll get tested when you get in the Championship, of course. When you’re playing in the U23s, playing in the Championship is another matter.
“But he can handle it. He trains up against the centre-backs here and he copes well, he has no problem with that. I’d have no problems with him if he had to be involved.”
McCarthy enjoys bringing players through from the academy: “It’s satisfying certainly, it’s rewarding when you see them and I think it’s probably even more rewarding for the academy guys when they see their pupils, their protégés coming through and playing in the first team.
“Wherever I’ve been people say, ‘We’ve got to get academy players in the team’ and I’ve always said to them, ‘If you’ve got any that are good enough, I’ll play them’. And that’s been proven with Bish, with Tristan, with Flynn and they are very good players.”
Regarding Nydam, he added: “Tristan’s fine. When we were asking about him signing his contract, just get him signed up, Flynn as well, I’d hang my hat on those two without any question, Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam.
“And that was proven with Tristan. At Leeds, he played wide left and then he went in the middle, then he went and sat on Eunan O’Kane and did a great job, he was excellent. It’s no trouble to him at all.”
The Blues boss says there are other even younger players making progress behind Nydam, Downes and Andre Dozzell, who might well come through under the next Town manager. McCarthy’s Blues contract is up next summer but with the club having an option to keep him for a further two years.
“We were just talking about Ben Folami being in the squad, I know he’s not come right through the academy but nevertheless he’s come through the youth system, and Ben Morris,” added McCarthy, who recently also praised England U17 international right-back Dylan Crowe, already a regular in the U23s, in a press conference.
“And there are more below that but whether they get to be my players or not is another matter.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy was pleased to see 20-year-old Irish midfielder Adam McDonnell net two goals in two games for his loan club Aldershot during the international break with his spell in the Vanarama National League going well.
“It is and I’m delighted for him because, to be brutally honest, whether he’s going to dislodge Tristan Nydam or Flynn Downes is irrelevant actually, what he’s doing is progressing his career,” he said.
“It had stagnated last year and he came back and he was fitter, he’s been back in the gym, he’s stronger and he’s got the bit between his teeth again.
“I’m really pleased for him because when I signed him I expected big things of him. I don’t know why, who knows why there are those peaks and troughs for young players, but he’s having a peak at the moment and I’m delighted for him.”
Defender George Fowler, 19, is also with the Shots but hasn’t been involved in the last couple of matches.
“He’s lost his place because the guy he went and replaced, who was injured, is now fit and I guess [manager] Gary [Waddock] thinks he’s his player, he’s a better option and George has been on the bench. Nevertheless, he’s had some good experience,” he added.
Also out on loan at present, at Chelmsford City, is another 19-year-old defender Chris Smith, who McCarthy says, like McDonnell and Fowler, will benefit from senior football.
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