Manager Simon Grayson discusses how key the youth setup is as the season closes.
With youth players up and down the country due to find out their fate in terms of a professional future in the game in the upcoming days and weeks, the North End gaffer has had his say on the importance of youth systems.
Speaking to PNE.Com, Grayson said: “I have had conversations quiet frequently with Nick Harrison about the youth setup and the players that he has coming through, not just the scholars at this moment in time but the ones underneath as well because I do feel that it is important that a football club has an affinity and identity with its youth system.
“I have always been one for giving players the opportunity if they are good enough no matter how old they are so it’s something we are looking to do.”
He continued: “Players we are going to take on, as come the end of this season, have to be really knocking on the first team door within the next six, 12 months and that’s the harsh reality of it.”
Although the gaffer would love to give as many of the scholars as possible an opportunity to impress, the success of the senior squad is the most important factor, something he is all too aware of.
“It is all about first team levels, don’t get me wrong and getting results,” said Simon.
“But you still want to have that sort of identity with the youth system that you bring kids through.
“You look at our youth system previously; you have got Will Hayhurst who was in there, Ben Davies, Bailey Wright, so you don’t get threes, fours and fives coming through the system.
“As long as they are producing maybe one, two a year then it is doing its job and recently that has been the case.”
Like any club, North End will be in the unfortunate position of telling some of their second year scholars that their futures lie away from Deepdale, with the un-envious task of telling them falling to Grayson, but he believes that many of these players will still go on to have bright futures in the game.
“I sat down with Nick Harrison yesterday afternoon and had a conversation with him about several things,” explained the gaffer.
“It is an uneasy decision to do it because they [the scholars] have built their lives up to try and become a professional footballer.
“They travel the length and breadth of the country, parents have followed them around doing this, that and the other and it is a ruthless industry and it is not easy, but I have to tell the players and I like to have the conversation with them face-to-face rather than sort of let the youth team coach do it because I would want them to come and prove me wrong and go and make a career because that’s how it has to be.
“Don’t go and sulk and think I am not going to be a footballer, go away and prove it at another club.
“It is a real difficult time for everybody involved when you have to make these decisions, but you have to make them decisions for the best of the football club and ultimately sometimes for the player.
“You can keep them hanging on and thinking that are going to be a professional here or whatever when really they are not going to do and then they sort of get in a rut and lose their way a little bit.”