The Future's Bright But It Won't Be Easy
Academy Director Bryan Jones was thrilled to see so many young faces in action last night, even if the result left a fair bit to be desired.
Speaking on the official site he explained it was pleasing for the younger lads to know that O'Neill will involve them if they earn it, but the days of almost being guaranteed a squad number are long over.
'The manager here has certainly raised the bar over the last couple of years and it's going to be more and more difficult to break through.
'I keep telling my staff that for a boy to come through our system and play in the Premier League is even harder than it was when Gareth Barry and Darius Vassell and others came through.
'The players have to relish that challenge and anyone who doesn't is probably at the wrong football club. They can see that the manager is prepared to throw them in at whatever age - should they prove good enough.
'That's a positive sight for them. The club has a reputation of wanting to play British players in the Premier League. That's a massive incentive for our young lads. They know that if they work hard and they produce the goods, they've got a chance.'
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