6 min read
4th Aug 2022
Steve Davis is proud of the work Wolves Academy is carrying out to give the club’s young players a pathway to senior football after five of his former players made their first outing for the first-team on Sunday.
With one week of pre-season remaining for the under-18s ahead of their first league match of the campaign against Blackburn Rovers, the head coach has reflected on the last fortnight of preparations for his players, which included a residential trip to York, as well as praising the opportunities which are being offered to the club’s youngsters, after seeing Ollie Tipton, Jack Hodnett, Harry Birtwistle, Lee Harkin and Nathan Fraser step out for Bruno Lage’s men against SC Farense.
On the academy pathway baring fruit
“It just highlights the pathway which is there for them. They can see the opportunities are there and there’s no better thing for a young footballer than to see a pathway in front of them. All my lads know now that if they perform well consistently, then they have an opportunity to reach our first-team.
“Everyone at the club sees that, but anyone who is thinking about coming into the club can also see it and that’s a huge advantage.
“It’s also a huge advantage to the lads themselves to be able to have that experience of training, travelling and being around the first-team in pre-season. The lads will have seen what it’s all about, the standards they need to reach and the challenge they’ve got.
“It’s great for any coach, and I know James [Collins, under-21 head coach] will be thinking the same, to see the players you’ve coached reach their potential, and I’m incredibly proud to have worked with those players.
“That is why we do what we do, but we love that pride we get from seeing those lads getting opportunities with the first-team squad – it’s brilliant to see.”
A great experience for some of our U21s to get on the pitch in Portugal.
— Wolves Academy (@WolvesAcademy) August 1, 2022
On a pre-season week in York
“We got everything we wanted out of the trip. It was an excellent facility in many respects, but we knew what we were going into because we went last year, but we stayed on sight this time rather than a hotel, which was good.
“We had the grass to ourselves and there was everything catered for in terms of facilities for the players and social facilities. But what we wanted to get out of that week was social and tactical, working mainly around that.
“We wanted to get to know each other better, we played different games, and had more interaction with the players, had a few meetings to establish the standards we expect from them, and then focused on the tactical side of the game.
“We did a lot of work on different formations and how we would deal when coming up against different formations, how we would play, the different principles of play, so it was a really good week.
“We also had two difficult games against two very good category two clubs, who play very differently to the teams we usually play; they were both very physical and a different challenge for us. But it was a very good week, very different to what we usually have, but it was very enjoyable for everyone.”
On the under-18s’ friendlies
“We played Barnsley in the first game up there last Wednesday, we won 2-1 and it was a very good game. They were very physical and were a similar sort of age to us, but they were physically better as to where they were in their growth, so it was tough from that point.
“We played very well in that game, and I was pleased with how they took on board the things that we’ve been working on.
“In our second game, we played Sheffield Wednesday and they won that one 2-0. In that game we played some of our younger first years and schoolboys, while they had a few of their under-21 lads and second years playing for them.
“We were always going to find it difficult because of the difference in the age group, but we wanted that challenge and although we lost the game, I thought we put up a decent fight and everyone got minutes, which is something we wanted as well to give everyone an opportunity.
“They were two good games, we got everything we wanted out of them, and we reached our objectives, which is always the main thing you look for in pre-season, rather than the results, so it was a pleasing week.”
On returning to Compton
“This week we were back at Compton which has been good because it feels like it’s been a while since we were here having been away the last two weeks out of three and then we were also training at Lilleshall, so it’s nice to get back to Compton.
“We’re training on the Astroturf at the moment because our usual pitch is currently being re-laid, so we’ve got to wait until September before that is done, so it’s a bit of a different surface for the players to get used to.
“But we’ve had decent group sizes to work with our scholars mixed in with schoolboys and a couple of boys we hadn’t seen yet, so yesterday we had a group of about 26, so numbers-wise it’s been very good.
“We’ve been working on the things we need to work on, the technical and tactical stuff, and the fitness. We went a little bit stronger against Notts County in the first-half, and were winning 1-0, then we changed it around for the second-half.
“I made seven changes at half-time and brought some of the younger lads on, some of the first-years, and we ended up drawing 1-1. Again, we got minutes for all of the players before Wigan on Saturday where we’ll probably go a little bit stronger again and try to get nearer to the team that’s going to start the following week.”
On a week to go until the season starts
“The most important thing is that we have everyone fit and ready for that first game against Blackburn in a week’s time. At the moment, all the lads who started pre-season are still with us, so we’ve not had any set-backs.
“You’re always going to get little things here and there, but there’s nothing major and let’s hope it stays that was for next week, and it’s important we try to get as many players 90 minutes as we can on Saturday ready for Blackburn.
“With pre-season, the thing you aim for most is to make sure everyone is fit and ready for that first game of the season and performing reasonably well. Then we’ll see how it goes on that first day.”