Dan Ashworth has vowed Newcastle United will do all they can to keep their most promising young players.
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The sporting director was quoted after Bobby Clark (son of Lee) opened up on the “tough” decision to leave Tyneside for Liverpool in 2021 while away on the club’s warm-weather training camp in the UAE.
As a talented young player from the area, the sight of Clark moving to Liverpool was hugely frustrating. Indeed, Newcastle have long-suffered in developing their own top talents from their academy, with the Longstaff brothers, Paul Dummett and Andy Carroll perhaps the only notable recent exceptions. Elliot Anderson obviously has a chance to outdo them all but is still at an early stage in his burgeoning career.
While a different time and under a different set of circumstances, Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley also left the club as young players, albeit the latter returned. Alan Shearer was initially let go before his homecoming and even current first-team Dan Burn was released from the academy as a youngster.
Still, Newcastle are in a different sphere now. While football is littered with tales of promising young players such as Shearer and Beardsley slipping through the net, losing Clark and to an extent Liam Gibson (at the time at least) because there were better offers elsewhere surely looks a thing of the past these days.
What has Ashworth said about Newcastle’s young players?
As quoted by the Shields Gazette, Ashworth said: “Ultimately, what you can’t control are different reasons why players want to go to a club. It might be a pathway, it might be money. It might be a family situation, or a link with that particular city – or that particular country.
“I think the more you can make players feel valued, the more you can give them evidence of a pathway to a first team, and the more the club are striving towards the targets we’d like to achieve, that gives a story and a reason for a young player or senior player to stay and be part of that journey.”
What are Newcastle’s plans for their academy?
According to The Athletic, academy manager Steve Harper is continuing an “overhaul of the club’s youth set-up and focuses on creating an environment that is primed to produce the Geordie heroes of tomorrow.”
Upon the club’s takeover last October, director Amanda Staveley said (via the Shields Gazette): “Investment is needed in every area. We’ve spent time with the academy teams, with the foundation and all of the other departments and it’s clear a lot of investment is needed.
“Getting Eddie in place was critical, finding that appointment was the most important thing we could do.
“Now we need to make sure the infrastructure that surrounds the first-team, whether it’s new training facilities, we’re looking at building a new academy and that’s something that is on the agenda as well.”