David Clegg Meets With Player Development Manager, Danny Barton, Who Previews Their Coming Season
A curtain raiser to this Sunday’s first team friendly with Swinton Lions, will kick start Salford’s U16s mini-season, with a home game, played in the outside enclosure behind the South Stand, against Barrow, KO 11.00.
With coach Danny Barton also in charge of the rapidly improving U19s College Academy, there is once again, now, a clear pathway of progression for our youngsters to make the complete progress right through to the first team squad, and indeed, he informs me, the present U19s side is comprised of many of last year’s U16s squad.
He also is pleased to bring us up to date with a number of changes, determined by the RFL, as to how the U16s will operate this coming season, which he firmly believes will be beneficial to Salford and to the players within a considerably increased squad.
“ ‘England Talent Pathway’, as they have entitled it, has replaced ‘Embed The Pathway’ the previous system under which we operated,” he explains. “Rather than having an U16s squad of around twenty lads, we shall be running two distinct groups, named Blacks and Reds, both of which will have their own sets of fixtures, which they will play over the next two months.
“There is no longer a maximum number of players that we must keep within, and in fact we currently have around fifty youngsters who we have been working with, over the past few months.”
Not only that, but the structure of the actual games will be significantly different.
“Instead of two halves of thirty-five minutes, we shall be playing four quarters of twenty minutes each,” he announces.
“This will be ideal from a player development point of view, because we will have an extra two breaks, in which we can give them much more immediate feedback from the previous twenty minute spell. I think this is a really good idea.”
This coming weekend it will be the Black team which will be turning out in the season’s opener, and in view of the fact that it is a curtain raiser, under previous circumstances competition for places would have been intense.
“We now can ensure that they all get a game as there are no restrictions on the number of players we can use,” Danny enthuses. “The lads are already aware that consequently there will be a lot of personnel changes throughout the game.
“This will enable some of them to broaden their experience by playing in different positions, which will stand them in good stead for when they get a bit older.”
With the group of players who make up the Red squad being rather sidelined for this particular fixture, Danny is already decided that the next high profile game which comes along will be offered to them.
“It’s important that all the players feel a part of the club, at this level,” Danny insists, because we don’t want to be losing any players because they feel they are being overlooked.”
With so many fundamental changes to the system Danny, understandably and in common with every other teams’ coaches, regards this season as something of a learning curve for himself.
“This is going to challenge our thinking on how we do a lot of things,” he believes. “it will be a really telling indicator as to how we are doing as a club, at this level, but I absolutely believe that we are in a better position this year than we were this time last year, irrespective of the changes we are facing from the 2017 competition.”
So don’t wait for 1pm to come to the ground, get down a couple of hours earlier and ensure you see for yourself all the work which is being undertaken at Youth level to ensure the supply of talent for future seasons to improve the club at its highest level.