Dyer: Bags of Potential in Young U23s Squad
Wednesday, 25th Aug 2021 10:16
Blues U23s boss Kieron Dyer has outlined the plans for the development squad this season and says he’s pleased with how they have started the campaign.
Dyer took over as U23s manager last October and, with Blues legend Terry Butcher assisting him, saw the side to second place in Professional Development League Two South in 2020/21.
The 42-year-old, who this season has Bryan Klug working alongside him, says this season’s approach differs from last year’s.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate that Terry’s no longer helping me with the 23s, Bryan is assisting me and we’re bouncing ideas off each other and we’re doing really well,” he said.
“Speaking to [CEO] Mark Ashton and the manager [Paul Cook], we’ve come up with a really good plan for the 23s this season, and I think where I’ve improved as a coach is that, as players, as coaches, we all want to win and sometimes you end up picking teams that win games of football, but that’s not always great overall for the players.
“I’ll give you an example. Say, for example, we had an 23s game last season and I could pick Dobs [Armando Dobra] and I could pick Iddy [Idris El Mizouni] and I could pick Corrie Ndaba, I would probably have picked them because I’m playing our strongest 23s team because I’m thinking more about the result rather than the players’ development.
“I think this season, with the plan that we’ve got, because we have got quite a lot of 23s players, we have ranked them where they should now be playing to get the most out of them.
“Some need men’s football because they’ve played 23s football for too long. They need to go and learn that side that of the men’s game now.
“For example, Tyreece Simpson [who has gone on loan to League Two Swindon]. I’d love to have Tyreece Simpson in my squad if I was trying to win the 23s league, but he needs to be going on loan to play football.
“We’ve got Tommy Smith who is now signing [on loan] for Lowestoft. Tommy Smith has been playing 23s football for too long. It’s not going to be any good for him any more to play 23s football.
“And there are so many other players that you’ll be hearing about that will be going on loan to play men’s football, whether that’s in the National League or the level just below.
“What you’ll see more with the 23s this season, it will be all about their development, so it’ll be a really young 23s squad.”
He says only a couple of more senior youngsters are currently involved in his team and they’re also likely to go out for loan spells.
“If you look at our team this season, probably the only senior boys we’ve got in the team are Ben Morris, which is pretty self-explanatory.
“Ben Morris has had two serious cruciate knee ligament injuries, he needs to play back-to-back games and get to the level that he was before his injuries and then he might have to wait until January before going on loan.
“If Ben Morris gets to where Ben Morris was, 23s football will be too easy for him, so he will have to go out on loan.
“The only other senior boy we’ve got in the team is Bailey Clements. Hayden Coulson’s been injured, Bailey Clements has been with the first team, so Bailey Clements needed to be playing games just in case something happened to Matt Penney.
“It could be now that Coulson’s fit, the manager, Mark, myself and Bryan we decide that the best option now for Bailey is him going on on a really decent loan, whether that’s the National League or we try and get him a League Two team because Bailey Clements has been playing 23s football since he was 16. He’s had five years of 23s football, he’s going to get nothing out of it.
“So, what I’ve really enjoyed this year is that I’ve really taken to the development side. Yes, winning is part of development, and we will win a lot of games because in the young core of players we’ve got I truly believe there’s bags of potential, I mean bags of potential.”
At the heart of the squad are players who saw the U18s into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, and also finished second in their league, last season.
“If you take out Ben Morris and you take out Bailey Clements, I reckon we’d have one of the youngest squads in the whole of 23s football, which I’m really pleased about,” Dyer continued.
“[Midfielder] Cameron Humphreys has already had a game for the first team, everyone’s already talking about what a bright future he has.
“[Forward] Tawanda [Chirewa] deserves special praise because this is a boy who couldn’t even get in the FA Youth Cup team last season.
“I know he went away, he got his head down, he worked, he employed his own coach to work on his fitness, to work on his fast feet and you can see all the extra work paying off.
“He’s come into the building in pre-season with a whole new mindset. He could have his own goal of the season competition just in pre-season and his start to the season.
“We’ve got [central defender] Albie Armin, who is a youth team player, in the 23s, he should be playing week-in, week-out now. We’ve got Tawanda, a youth team player, he should be playing week-in, week-out, Cameron Humphreys.
“[Midfielder] Jesse Nwabueze came on and made an appearance for the last 20 minutes against Crewe the other day. He’ll be with the 23s sooner rather than later.
“[Forward] Harley Curtis is just itching for his chance and when Ben Morris gets his fitness and proves himself and goes out [on loan] and we’ll have Harley Curtis [come in].
“They’re all young players, they’ve all some potential and it’s mine and Bryan’s job now to help them fulfil that potential.
“I’m really happy with the young squad we’ve got. There are going to be times where the first team need players to come in to get fit and the first team takes priority over everything, you live with that. But I’m very happy with the core of the squad I’ve got.”
Left-back Smith, 19, joins a number of other youngsters already out on loan in non-league. Callum Page recently rejoined his old club Needham Market, while forward Tyrese Osbourne and goalkeeper Lewis Ridd are with AFC Sudbury. Another keeper, Bert White, is with Gosport Borough.
“I’m happy for the players going out on loan,” the former England international added. “Just because they’re going out on loan to these non-league clubs, it doesn’t mean we don’t trust these players, we just think that at this stage of their development, they need to be playing men’s football because you know 23s football.
“You see when we play West Ham’s U21s or Tottenham’s U21s in the EFL Trophy that it’s all tippy tappy, it’s not about dealing with set pieces. As you saw with the Cheltenham game, there are many styles of football, long throws and set pieces, second balls, which you probably won’t get in 23s football, but they will definitely get from men’s football, it will prepare them.
“Who’s to say next year, all these young players I’m talking about, the next stage of their development is them going out on loan to men’s football to learn that side of the game.”
So far this season the U23s have lost 2-1 at home to Coventry, a game they were unfortunate to lose, then beat Crewe 3-1 at Gresty Road on Monday.
Reflecting on his expectations for the campaign, he said: “I think we’re going to have a good season, we’re going to have some lows but we’re going to have some real good highs.
“I loved the fact that we had young Albie Armin (above), who has just turned 17 and Cameron Stewart, who’s 18, were playing against Matt Godden for Coventry, who came on for their first team the other day and scored the winner against Reading.
“He’s probably had more than 200 games in professional football and these two teenagers are playing against a first-team player with that kind of experience, they’re never going to learn that any other way.
“What was great about Coventry on the day, they had about four first-team players who have probably played over 50 games, [Declan] Drysdale was on loan at Cambridge last season.
“When pros come to 23s football and they do it right, like Coventry did, that’s brilliant for our young players, that’s an education in itself.”
Dyer felt his side were impacted by their pre-season having been interrupted by Covid issues in the latter stages against the Sky Blues.
“If you take out probably the first 20 minutes and the last 10 minutes, we were superb, absolutely superb,” he said.
“Obviously, our players were hit by Covid and maybe the last 10 minutes that caught up with us, but we played some really good stuff and we continued that against Crewe. The boys are playing really well, they’re responding well in training and me and Bryan.
“The manager comes to watch us train. When the first team finish training, we train a bit later and he comes to watch and he’s always encouraging and he’s always there and he’s impressed with what he sees and the intensity that we train at. They’re all heading in the right direction.
“Will we have the same success as last season with the 18s and 23s? I’m not so sure. Because whereas last season we played Dobra and Iddy and Brett [McGavin] and Jack [Lankester], I won’t be so hasty this year, I’ll always think what’s best for the players.
“Like I said, if that means we’re young, then so be it. I think that will be the same with the 18s.
“There’s no stopping some of the 18s, Tyrese Osbourne has gone out on loan, we - Adz [U18s manager Adem Atay] and [academy manager] Lee O’Neill and BK [Klug] - might look at other 18s going out on loan to play the men’s side of the game to create pathways for 16s to come into the 18s.
“It’s all what’s best for the players now, I’m totally on board with that and love that concept.”
Photos: Matchday Images
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