CLUB Captain Shaun Barker has praised the work of Burton Albion’s Academy and is pleased to have had the opportunity to work and play with some of the next generation of Brewers players this season.
Barker featured as a late substitute in a Central League Cup reserve game against Mansfield Town in September, while he also made a goalscoring impact off of the bench when he netted late-on to help Burton beat Highgate United 3-2 in the Birmingham Senior Cup, where he played alongside many of Burton Albion’s under 18s side. Barker has also been working with the Burton Albion academy throughout the season
The former Derby County defender, who signed contract extension with the Brewers earlier this month, says that he still enjoys any minutes that he gets on the pitch and believes that the Burton Albion Academy is doing a brilliant job of developing players for the first-team, especially given its relative infancy.
“Time on the pitch is great and it is great that I can get on the pitch with the young lads as well. Dan (Robinson, Academy Manager) is very keen that everyone knows what it means to be a player for Burton Albion. With myself having played a lot of games in this division and being at the age that I am, I think he is probably surprised by how energetic and enthusiastic I am about playing 10 minutes at the end of games. For example, at Highgate on a muddy pitch in the pouring rain. Anytime that I am on the pitch is a delight for me.
“I was surprised when Dan told me that it was only eight or nine years since the Academy was set-up, so to get to where they are now, to be producing players that are featuring in the first team like Matty Palmer, Joe Sbarra and Ben Fox. That is what the Academy is all about.”
“The hard thing is going to be that players have now got an even bigger jump to be in a first-team scenario. This is not a conference side or a League Two side, this is a side competing with the likes of Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. They are huge clubs with fantastic history, Burton Albion have got to compete against them and young lads have to prove that they are worthy of getting the opportunity in a Championship club, but training at St George’s Park every day and having the opportunity to work with the first team is a massive plus for them.”