Speaking ahead of Tuesday night’s FA Youth Cup game against Charlton, First Team Manager Darren Sarll has offered his full support to the U18s.
A win tomorrow evening would mean a Third Round tie against Tottenham Hotspur and Sarll, former Academy Manager at the club, knows how important the path from youth to first team is.
“A year and a half ago I handed it over to Robbie O’Keefe and now Glenn and I are still there once a week to make sure it stays on a similar track to the first team.
“I think that is so important. Again, it comes back to the fact that we both see ourselves here in the long term.
“We have a minimum of two U18’s training with us every day. We give them a fortnight with us, some stay a bit longer, some go back and we give them a development plan to go and work with the academy coaches.”
Sarll knows that the FA Youth Cup opens up an opportunity for young players to shine and he spoke about the story of Ben Kennedy’s rise to the first team as inspiration to our U18s.
“The one great thing about the FA Youth Cup is that it does ad pressure to the young players and recreates something kind of similar to a first team game.
“It is a real good opportunity to see the character, temperament and development of the players. You can make sound observations and decisions based on this competition.
“Going back to Graham, I always found it very hard to push young players onto him because he did like a senior player more than a younger player, but it was Ben Kennedy’s performance against Everton that night, Graham had no choice. He had to play Ben Kennedy, he was like a man possessed.
“Then he got into the first team and in my opinion – and I don’t want to show disrespect or a lack of courtesy to the other players in the squad – I thought he fired us to the play-offs that year.
“It all came off an FA Youth Cup performance at the Lamex one very wet night where I thought we absolutely ripped Everton to shreds and really brought our academy into the limelight.”
Tomorrow’s game is a 7pm kick off at the Lamex Stadium and Sarll says that his players will be there as a show of unity.
“I have got to say that a lot of the players came to the Ware game. I had Nathan Kerr in the dressing room, Ben Kennedy, Dale Gorman, Tom Conlon all in the dressing room. We want to have a real tight knit family here and it is one club.
“It is Stevenage playing Charlton. They are part of my football club and whilst they are we need to give them the feeling and environment that they very much belong and are an important part of the clubs future.
“We will all be there and I would be very surprised if the club captain, the Charlie Lee’s and people like that, they love this football club and they will support any level of it.”