Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick and Tom Huddlestone are just some of the exceptional talents the Derby County academy have nurtured and developed over the years.
The Moor Farm Training Centre boasts some of the most impressive facilities of any Championship club and is set to give rise to more exceptional young talents.
Refurbished in 2008, Moor Farm has borne witness to the growth of the likes of Mason Bennett, Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe, who are all now regularly competing for a place in the first team.
But who will be next? Who are the Derby County players who look a sure bet to become regular starters in first team following their valiant displays in the youth ranks?
As it turns out, there are quite a few of you that aren’t all too familiar with the future of the Rams. Only 21 out of 30 supporters were able to name at least one academy prospect.
Morgan Whittaker, given his recent inclusion in the first team, is the best-known academy prospect. Last year’s academy apprentice of the year Max Bird was a close second.
Nine fans couldn’t even name one. So, here are five you definitely ought to be aware of:
At just 18 years old, Whittaker is one of the few Derby players to have played some match time in the Championship this season. This achievement is testament to the incredible form he has displayed, and continues to display, for the academy.
He already has 10 goals in 10 games to his name in all competitions this season and is the UEFA Youth League’s top scorer and Premier League 2’s third-top scorer.
Versatility is just part of his skill set: this season he has fluctuated between a striker role and that of a right winger. Cutting in from the right and curling an effort into the far corner with his left foot has become something of a trademark for the attacker over the past two years. Half of his goals this season have come from cutting in and doing exactly that.
Hector-Ingram and Whittaker are in direct competition witch each other to finish as the under-23s top scorer. After a successful trial at the start of the season, the 20-year-old joined the Rams after he was released from West Ham United.
With five goals and two assists in nine games, the striker is – along with Whittaker – Derby’s top scorer in the Premier League 2 so far this season. He is lightening quick and extremely agile making him one of the most feared strikers in the division.
Off the back of his impressive form, he was rewarded with the Premier League 2 player of the month award for October. It is the first time a Derby player has won the award in over a year.
— Derby County Academy (@dcfcacademy) December 3, 2019
The Burton-born attacking midfielder has shown all the desirable qualities of an attacking midfielder. Already this season, Sibley has six assists to his name in all competitions. He was undeniably the driving force behind their European surge in the UEFA Youth Cup, recording a hat-trick of assists against FC Minsk.
He has, though, been criticised for his lack of goals in a Derby shirt; last season, he managed just four for the under-23s. He has answered those critics with defiance in one of his most recent displays in the black and white of Derby.
Against Leeds United in the Premier League Cup, Sibley scored his first hat-trick for the team during an emphatic 7-1 win at the Loughborough University Stadium.
Call me crazy but I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this Sibley kid is going to be some player 😉 https://t.co/XMnfw4mjv2
— Owen Bradley (@OwenBradley) November 13, 2019
Perhaps one of the lesser-known academy prospects, Callum Minkley is yet to be included in any of the first team matchday squads. At just 19, Minkley is already showing great maturity, captaining the under-18s last season and under-23s side on two occasions this season.
Naturally a right footer, the defender has already shown he is comfortable playing on either side of the central defence. In eight games so far this season, he has kept 4 clean sheets and helped the side up to second place in the Premier League 2 behind only Chelsea.
Standing at only 5ft 11ins, he isn’t exactly the tallest or most conventional of centre halves, but what he is, is a product of what Derby are trying to push for going forward: a good ball-playing defender, perfect for starting progressive football.
Like Sibley and Whittaker, Buchanan has had the pleasure of already experiencing life in the first team ranks. At the beginning of the season he was deployed in the first team for the injured Jayden Bogle.
He was first included in the squad against Scunthorpe United in the first round of the Carabao Cup. He grabbed his chance wholeheartedly and scored the only goal of the game in a narrow 1-0 victory.
This earned the 19-year-old a first start in the Championship and he has since earned a call up to the England under-19 side. He looks set to follow the likes of Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe as the latest fullback to emerge from the Derby academy.