Academy Manager Gregg Broughton blogs on the 2015-16 season
There are currently seven Academy players away from the Club on loan deals, which has exceeded our targets.
To have three players featuring at Championship level is well beyond our pre-season expectations, and reflects the big advantage of having a loan manager at the Football Club.
It means Norwich City can be targeted in terms of players we want to get first team exposure elsewhere, whereas most teams operate on a more reactive than proactive basis.
There’s one more player we’d like to sort a loan move for, and that’s Reece Hall-Johnson who has now recovered from a hamstring injury and did very well in our recent game against Reading.
Reece has the athleticism and quality on the ball to make a real impact from full-back at senior level and there’s currently a concerted effort to put him in a position where he can show his ability in league football.
We believe everything experienced by the players away from the Club on loan is a positive as they are able to learn from their journey.
Jacob Murphy, for instance, had a few games out of the team for Coventry City before coming back in and making a visible impact.
On the other hand, Remi Matthews at Burton Albion and Jamar Loza at Stevenage have perhaps not played as much football as we would have hoped.
Despite that, it exposes both of them to different environments and gives them a clear indication of what they need to do in order to make a living in the game.
With that in mind, we view all the loan experiences as advantageous to the players’ development and are excited to see how the remainder of them pan out.
So many Under-21s players leaving the Club on loan has allowed some of the second-year scholars and first-year professionals to step up into the gaps left in the team.
It’s been a stretch, but undeniably a positive one. We’ve fallen short in the last three games against Tottenham, Reading and Leicester but have generally been competitive in each of those matches.
At Leicester we should have won the game as we created more opportunities than in any other match so far this season only to spurn chances and concede two soft goals.
There will be lessons to learn from that match in particular, and it was brilliant to see all of the first-team management staff there to witness the game and give feedback to the players.
Meanwhile, although at Reading we didn’t deserve to win the game we were pleased with several individual performances, despite being on average three years younger than the opposition.
We went there without any senior professionals to face a side who have started their campaign very well, and matched them for long periods..
The changing dynamic of the Under-21s means there is now an increased opportunity for Afolabi Coker, Joe Crowe and Michee Efete to shine.
All three are defenders from the younger age groups, and they have the chance to demonstrate their ability at this level in order to earn either a loan move or first team experience.
There has also been the overwhelming positive of the first-team manager continuing to put those boys around his training group day-to-day at Colney, with several youngsters frequently involved in senior sessions.
That illustrates how important the Academy is to Norwich City, and emphasises the desire to expose young players to a first-team environment at every available opportunity.
We recently had to submit a library of documents exceeding 180,000 words as all Category One Academies are being audited for the first time since 2012.
That meant the entire staff had an extremely busy October preparing evidence for submission on the final day of the month, and we are now awaiting confirmation of our visit date, which we expect to be after Christmas.
Following that five-day visit, we find out the result of the audit in May, the same date as other clubs across England.
We’re very confident that we are operating well above the standards required to be in Category One and to be considered as one of the top academies nationwide.
The only aspect we have work to do is on some of the facilities at Colney, which we are working to bring up to standard over the course of the next six months ahead of the July deadline.
Specifically, there are three things we are developing at the training centre in this period; starting with the installation of a full-size, floodlit 3G pitch which will have a huge impact on the Academy.
Secondly, we will be levelling the bottom-half of the Colney pitches to bring them up to the standard of the top-half pitches and improve their durability.
Finally, there are plans to relay the carpet inside the arena to bring that up to the FIFA standards expected of a Category One Academy.
There has been a vast amount of capital expenditure dedicated by the Football Club to doing all of the above, ensuring the facilities fulfil the criteria required to pass.