Wolverhampton Wanderers academy players believe they have a better chance than ever to make it into the first team – despite the club flying high in the Premier League.
Wolves are currently sat in seventh place in the table, after having gained promotion back to England’s top tier only last season.
Yet, despite the club being successful on the pitch, the younger players at the club are upbeat about their chances of making it into the first team.
Taylor Perry, a 17-year-old academy prospect, said the youth players have the full backing of everyone at the club. He said: “It’s good to know that everyone puts their faith in the youth at the club and does what they can to get the best out of them.
“I think there’s a good path way here and, if you work hard and get the best out of yourself, it will be noticed. We get opportunities to train with the first team which is good for us, because it gets the best out of us.
“All the players at first-team level help us and offer us advice, they’re humble and they try to help make us better players.’’
His thoughts are reflected by Pascal Juan Estrada, an Austrian midfielder who moved across to England to join the academy.
He said: “It’s very good here to see that there is a path way right to the top. Some of us have trained with the under 23s and the first team and that shows us that it is possible to get where we want to be if we work hard enough.”
Morgan Gibbs-White is a living example that Wolves are still very much invested in their youth academy.
The 19-year-old has featured heavily for the club this season, making 21 appearances in the Premier League, although 17 of them have been from the bench.
Gibbs-White is seen as something of a role model to the youngsters hoping to make their first-team breakthrough.
Luke Cundle, who plays a similar role for the under 18s team that Gibbs-White did, said he aspires to be like him one day.
He said: “Like we’ve seen with Morgan, it’s possible to go all the way through the system but you have to be good enough. The way Morgan plays and carries himself off the pitch as well as on it makes him a good role model for all of us and one day we hope to be in the same position as he is.”
Juan Estrada also pointed out why Gibbs-White’s progress to the first team is something all the academy players aim to replicate.
He said: “When I first came here, Morgan was playing for the under 23s and now he’s a regular for the first team. It shows us that our dreams are achievable and someday we want to be in his position.”
Using their academy resources is not something that is new to Wolves however, they have a history of promoting players to their first-team when they feel they are ready.
Robbie Keane is perhaps the most famous player to emerge from the Wolves academy in recent memory, the former Republic of Ireland international made his professional debut for the club back in 1997.
Premier League winner Joleon Lescott also rose from the ranks, making his debut at the age of 17. He went on to make over 200 appearances for the club.
While these youth academy graduates are two of the most successful, they are both from over a decade ago. However, current manager Nuno Espirito Santo has shown he has his own faith in youth, promoting the likes of Elliott Watt, Max Kilman and Ryan Giles to Wolves’ first team this season.
With the club moving rapidly in an upward direction both on and off the field, some may be concerned that first team opportunities for the younger players may become sparse.
But if the youngsters themselves have the confidence their chances will come, perhaps their fans should too.