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Lambert: Hughes and Other Youngsters Have Got a Chance But Have a Long Way to Go
Wednesday, 16th Oct 2019 16:21

Boss Paul Lambert says midfielder Tommy Hughes, who made his senior debut as a sub in the Leasing.com Trophy victory over Gillingham last week, is a terrific passer of the ball but says the 18-year-old and the other youngsters who have featured in the tournament this season are still some way off becoming League One regulars.

Academy product Hughes came off the bench in the 80th minute against the Gills and appeared to relish the step up as the Blues steamrollered Steve Evans’s side 4-0.
 
“I put him in because he trained with us and he trained well, and I thought let’s go and see the kid play a bit of football,” Lambert said.

“He's a terrific passer of the ball but don't put any nonsense pressure on the kid, he's only a kid, and he's only been in [briefly].

“He’s a mile from it, but he's somebody I thought could make a little impact on the first team in that particular game.”
 
The Leasing.com Trophy has become the next step for youngsters in the U23s, somewhere between the development side and league football.
 
“To an extent, it is,” Lambert considered. “If I never thought the kids could do that I wouldn't play them, that's the big thing.

“[Armando] Dobra I saw training with us last year, and I thought he had a little bit about him.

“Same with Tommy Hughes, same with Idris [El Mizouni] and all the kids who have come up with us and done a little bit.

“I think they have got a little chance, but there's no point in asking me in this moment if they can go week in and week out because that doesn't make sense, they're not ready for that environment yet.”

He added: “They come up against guys who are playing regularly in League One, five or six [senior] players will play in that tournament.

“They come up against it. Dobra’s done great, Tommy did well but ask them to go into an environment week in, week out is hard, that’s why I’ve got to watch and protect them.”

Lambert has said he’s no fan of the Leasing.com Trophy but in addition to the youngsters getting some first-team experience, it has given the likes of Toto Nsiala a chance to get minutes under their belts as they have returned from injury.
 
“That's the only merit I see in it,” he added, “giving people game time and being match fit.

“As I said before, we've too many games in this country and you throw another cup competition in. That’s just my personal opinion of it.

“I think there's a lot of games here which is good for the guys that are coming back from injury and younger players making a name for themselves, which I think is good on that front, but the main priority is the league.”

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BotesdaleBlue added 16:51 - Oct 16
I understand the point Lambert is making about not pushing the youngsters to much or too soon, but it shows how football has changed from our glory days.

The likes of Burley, Wark, Brazil, Osman and Butcher et al, established themselves in the team very soon after making their debuts - and did so at the top level. (I exclude Beattie from this list as he was simply on a totally different level).

Perhaps the answer is that above players were very much superior in their own ways to our current promising crop of 17, 18 and 19 year olds, but it just shows how the attitudes towards bringing on the youngsters has changed across football.

This is not a grumble, just an observation really.
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HappySnidge added 17:45 - Oct 16
I must be a Grumpy old git so apologies up front. I detest the "kids" reference. Age, be it young or old, should not be a selection criteria. If you focus on age the risk is you mentally develop an unconscious bias that then leaves you blinkered and risks opportunities being lost.

Agree with names BotesdaleBlue put forward. I would add Jason Dozzel, Kieran Dyer, and Titus Bramble as examples from a time when the Manager did not believe that youth countered against a player. Also these great "kids" that went onto bring in a lot of transfer fee mone into the cluy. Think Jason went back to school on the Monday
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Suffolkboy added 19:19 - Oct 16
Can only reflect with the greatest pleasure on the days when we had so many youngsters actually coming through and staying in the first team squad : but there’s no denying the game HAS moved on ,its faster ,no less physically demanding ,and the overall skill levels appear to have increased all round .
Now that’s not to dismiss what ‘youngsters ‘ can offer but the journey to the ‘top ‘ ,wherever and whatever that may be ,contains increased and different demands .I don’t think PL has ever been afraid to select or play the younger players ,but he is always aware keenly of the need to care, protect and educate the relatively inexperienced to ensure a thorough -going career future isn’t jeopardised .
Still it looks like we do have a great training team of coaches etc at the Academy and they continue to see their charges mature sufficiently to be capable of making good footballers.
Keep up the wonderful work PL and team !
COYB
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DanSuperTown added 21:09 - Oct 16
Think there are 2 distinct groups of Kids, the odd one or two who come in and make it impossible not to keep them in....we have not had one of them for a while... then you have what we have, lots of very good young players who if given time and opportunity, will grow into the team and then flourish...... pretty sure if El Miz, Dobra or any other player had torn up the Gills, they would be nearer or in the first team, but they stay steady
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ITFCsince73 added 12:47 - Oct 17
Lambo said the same words about Downes and the Woolf not many months back.
Now 1st 11 players.
If your good enough, your old enough imo.
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