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14 October 2015

Mike Whitlow on: Academy prospects

At a time where Burton Albion appear to be skyrocketing up the Football League, smashing the preverbal ‘glass ceilings’ of those who dared to look down on the Brewers, getting lost in the moment would be forgivable.

Mike Whitlow, however, is not only thinking of the present; he and his team are shaping the future of the club and he is under no illusions about the task ahead.

“It isn’t rocket science, this football; if you pass the ball well, defend well, move and receive well then you have half a chance especially if you can do that as an individual and as a unit. These young lads are a good group, they work hard and that won’t change from now until the end of the season.

“They are always going have to work that little bit harder in future and they will always have to ask a little bit more of themselves because that is their development. They all know their targets and where we are trying to get, they know what they have to do. When we set targets the players sit down with us and they know where they need to get.

“As anything there are high standards, it doesn’t matter what level, they are trying to be professional footballers; we are looking at development, not three months, six months or 12 months, we are looking at where they can get in the future, how much have they developed and do they have the attributes to be a professional football, get in that first team squad and earn a living as a professional footballer.

“Whatever level the first team is at, these lads have to aspire to get there, is it harder? Well it is hard enough being a professional footballer so they have to show the attributes to give themselves a chance of Dave and Jimmy looking at them and thinking that they are good enough to join their squad for a year. We are looking long term, not short term,”

Whitlow has also been delighted by the manner in which first year players have integrated themselves into the squad, and the way that second year players are growing.

“You look at the lads that are coming in and you are hoping that they can keep improving and developing, the second years can help to guide them too.

“They are trying to earn a contract, the second years,  a lot quicker than the first years so these lads have got a lot to learn and a long way to go, as individuals, and as a group but they have put in some very hard work and I have seen some good individual performances,”

With some academy players having already made the step up in recent years, it is evident that Mike and his team are dedicated to their roles, and it is easy to see that the future of Burton Albion is in very safe hands.

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