Albion youth boss encouraged by path to first-team squad

Shamir Fenelon has caught the eye with his direct attacking approach (Photograph: Paul Hazlewood)
Shamir Fenelon has caught the eye with his direct attacking approach (Photograph: Paul Hazlewood)

The Albion’s young players have done their chances of progressing into the first-team squad no harm at all.

The Albion’s young players have done their chances of progressing into the first-team squad no harm at all on their training camp in Spain, according to the club’s under-21 coach.

Simon Ireland believes the week away has been a superb opportunity for members of the Albion’s development squad - not least because it afforded his young charges a close-up glimpse of the Albion’s star talent.

Speaking after his side drew 0-0 with Spanish Segunda Division outfit Cartagena, who fielded a mixture of first team and youngsters, Ireland was full of praise for his team and delighted with the tour in general.

He said: “It is a great experience coming here. It is something the club do fantastically well.

“You can see they [the development squad players] are thinking, I have a chance here; even if it is only to train with the first team, I have a chance to impress the gaffer.

And then also for the under-18s coming into my group, they have done themselves no harm – we have seen some good performances from the younger boys.”

The Seagulls have invested more than £30 million in a new state-of-the-art training complex that will, it hopes, help to attract top young talent to the club.

Equally important perhaps, though, is the chance of first-team football. And Ireland was pleased to see a number of the club’s younger players given a chance with the first team.

Last season, Rohan Ince, Solly March and Jake Forster-Caskey all progressed to the front side under the watchful eye of Oscar Garcia after impressing for the development squad.

And it looks like being no different under the Catalan’s replacement Sami Hyypiä, with a number of untried youngsters already given a chance to impress in the first team.

Highly-rated young goalkeeper Christian Walton, who recently signed a contract extension, is currently the club’s back-up custodian, while Shamir Fenelon has caught the eye with his direct attacking approach.

According to Ireland, the manager’s willingness to give youth a chance could prove vital in the club’s bid to build a strong development squad.

He said: “It is fantastic. It is great, because when you are trying to attract a player to the club or dealing with your own players and you can say to them ‘if you are good enough, you’ll be in and around the first team’.”