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O'Neill: Brexit Will Increase Bigger Clubs' Interest in Our Youngsters
Thursday, 11th Feb 2021 11:08

General manager of football operations Lee O’Neill believes it’s a feather in the academy’s cap that Premier League clubs are eyeing youngsters such as Elkan Baggott and Liam Gibbs and says that the impact of Brexit will see clubs from the top two divisions increasing their interest in young players in the lower leagues.

Centre-half Baggott, 18, recently signed his first professional contract, which runs to the summer of 2023 with the Blues having an option for a further season, having made his first and so far still only appearance for the senior side in the Papa John’s Trophy tie against Gillingham, and also travelled with the first team to Plymouth and was on the bench for the recent home game against Sunderland.

Everton were keen on the Indonesian U19 international, while West Ham and Leeds had also been linked.

O’Neill, who also remains the club’s academy manager, feels that that interest should be viewed as a compliment to the work being done at Playford Road.

He also says Brexit will have an impact with clubs no longer able to sign players aged below 18 from abroad.

“We have to look at it as a positive,” he told TWTD. “I think the whole Brexit thing, with clubs not being able to recruit from Europe as well as they did with the strategies they had in place before Brexit, has meant bigger clubs, whether they’re Premier League clubs or category one clubs, will start to look in and around our area at our players.

“Yes, it’s good for them that they are attracting attention but at the same time it’s really good for us that they want to be here and they all have been with us for a long time through our academy system.

“They can see a pathway through to the first team and that if they play well they keep their place, it’s as simple as that.

“I’m delighted that Elkan has put pen to paper and he’ll continue developing. He’s not the finished article yet, he’s got a lot of developing still to do, but he’s a great kid and his hunger and thirst for knowledge is great.

“He’s got some great people around him, Terry Butcher and Kieron [Dyer, who coach the U23s], [U18s manager] Adem [Atay], [academy head of coaching and player development] Bryan [Klug] and Gerard [Nash], all of them working with him to try and make him a better player.

“And then stepping into the senior side of things Gilly [first-team coach Matt Gill], [assistant manager] Stuart [Taylor] and the manager [Paul Lambert] have been working with him as well.”

Midfielder Gibbs, also 18, made his league debut in the home defeat to Charlton and has also made two starts and one sub appearance in the Papa John’s Trophy.

The Bury St Edmunds-born midfielder’s current contract is up in the summer with Premier League clubs having kept tabs on his progress for some months.

O’Neill confirmed that, as reported by TWTD last month, a new contract has been offered which he hopes he will sign.

“With Liam, I would like to see that situation,” he said. “The kid’s got to play and get some game time.

“He made his debut against Charlton and he wants to see what that next stage is going to look like for him, which I get and understand.

“We obviously would very much like him to sign but that’s going to be a decision for Liam and his family and his advisors on what he does next.

“But it’s the club’s intention that we would like him to stay and we see him as part of our plans, and that’s something we’ll have to review as the second half of the season goes through.”

Photos: Matchday Images

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spanishblue added 11:24 - Feb 11
Well let’s hope that he doesn’t get to much coaching from the buffoons who coach the first team squad,,I would suggest that as we are going nowhere fast why not let these kids play them Evans can sell them for peanuts,supporting my club is making me very depressed but I still watch every gaa as me I can from a far, not sure if IPTV is such a good thing at minute

ArnieM added 11:38 - Feb 11
Just as well someone is paying attention to our young talent. because THIS club sure as hell doesn't .

Nobbysnuts added 11:41 - Feb 11
Just go away you stupid man....

Gilesy added 11:43 - Feb 11
We shouldn't be in the sodding lower leagues.

LWNR2013 added 11:52 - Feb 11
Why would young talent stay here beyond 18?


MattinLondon added 11:56 - Feb 11
Not necessarily the case. They can still buy young European players but send them out on loan to a club in the EU. Then once they qualify they’ll be able to add to the player to their squad.

Or, football is worth so much to the economy and national image that things will continue as normal.

CalneBlue added 11:58 - Feb 11
Let's face it, none of our managers under Evans have been genuinely interested in playing our kids unless forced into it. McCarthy was the worst offender. The kids are brought in, show some promise and are then replaced by journeymen loans or free transfers. Two of the better ones in my opinion have been Lankester and El Mizouni - both looked like real prospects but are now way down the pecking order. Under the great man SBR John Wark made his debut vs Man Utd at 17 - I think he played pretty regularly after that.

1RWR added 11:58 - Feb 11
Perhaps Brexit will entice a new owner?..........here's hoping!

grubbyoik added 12:03 - Feb 11
So the only thing we have to celebrate is the bigger clubs cherry picking our young talented players.. Nice bit of PR O' Neill.. You and your crones really are CockWombles!

DifferentGravy added 12:22 - Feb 11
Ha! Thanks Grubbyoik.......as fed up as I am to the back teeth with Shambert and Evans.......that did make me laugh......a new word to enter into the vocabulary!

Cloddyseedbed added 12:25 - Feb 11
I for one am starting to not really care anymore. Never ever thought I would say that. I wonder if Lincoln or Peterborough supporters feel like us. Smaller clubs but in a far better place.

sospier added 12:30 - Feb 11
Does that mean we will selling all our younger players and keep the old ones.🤔

OuchThat added 12:35 - Feb 11
You can’t polish a turd...we are in a bad place as a club, these press reports designed to create positive reaction aren’t doing the job. Real change is needed, starting with Lambert getting the tin tack.

dirtydingusmagee added 12:54 - Feb 11
ohhh that will please Ebeneezer.

Scuzzer added 12:56 - Feb 11
If they're that good...why are they not being played in our first team? If you're good enough, you're old enough.

BCblue47 added 13:03 - Feb 11
Does anybody at ITFC actually read these comments? Or is this something else that PL & co have banned. Maybe that's why they do not understand how bad things are and how p*****d off everyone is.

RegencyBlue added 13:12 - Feb 11
So, when Evans flogs off a youngster in the future it’s Brexit which will get the blame?

He does like an excuse does our illustrious owner!!


ChrisFelix added 13:22 - Feb 11
It is not Brexit which will see our youngsters going elsewhere. Its poor management & the failure to achieve promotion. We still have several promising youth players but to stay in Suffolk they need incentive. The last 2 years has hardly been encouraging !!!

mib added 13:25 - Feb 11
totally agree with the posts on here this morning, why develop the youngsters and then gave them away for next to nothing, doesnt make sense.

Bluespeed225 added 13:26 - Feb 11
Calneblue, yup, Burley at Man U, 17, Wark v Leeds in an FA Cup reply! Trust the youngsters, sure there’ll be a few mishaps, but the crowd will support them.

truthsayer added 13:27 - Feb 11
There are a few talented players in the academy the stars are already identified by the cat 1 clubs and will move, they get played to increase the compensation if the go to tribunal. Playing kids early increases the kids sell on value. If Baggott was seen as potential by the bigger clubs as suggested they would have jumped earlier, he’s not a modern centre back but maybe good enough for the level ITFC are in. Raises the question planning for the future not maintaining the status quo. The best player by a country mile is Finlay Corrigan he’s a left footed striker front three two footed player and attacking midfielder, played for Wales and had massive interest but being hidden as he’s only been there for a year or two I think he’s a 2005 but massive prospect- better than the current strikers needs a chance for sure he’ll get us some goals he’s only 15 scores for fun against cat 1 academies. I hear that the prem clubs are lining him up. Another loss

LWNR2013 added 13:33 - Feb 11
You saw what the fans think of young talent on Saturday. Immediate buy-in and excitement. These guys sell tickets.

And then it was Tuesday again.

rabbit added 13:34 - Feb 11
CalnBlue, I am in no way disagreeing with your sentiments and agree wholeheartedly with your view on MM.
Actually John W did make his debut at 17 in the quarter final of the FA Cup vs Leeds, this was forced on to Robson because of injury to first team'ers and the very small squad at his disposal. Although he may have played a couple of more times this season ( semi against WHU at Stamford Bridge springs to mind) but after this he was back to the youth team, that's the team that actually won the youth cup that season.
He didn't make his impact until a couple of years later and this time playing in mid-field and not centre half.
Great to remember though thanks for that, just think what a team it would have been if there had been some investment in the squad at that time.

eddiespearitt03 added 13:41 - Feb 11
Evans little puppy farm. O,Neil thinks it is a compliment that other clubs are keeping an eye on our young players where as Evans plan is hopefully to sell them one day.

WonTheCupin78 added 13:42 - Feb 11
Wonder which clubs are defined as bigger than us these days? Not long ago Lincoln shocked us by knocking us out of the cup. We play Lincoln City now looking for a point at best. We have been overtaken by a lot of clubs.

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