OUR penultimate EFL Youth Development Week player focus takes a look at Joe Sbarra, the tricky midfielder who has excited supporters over the last season and a half.
A graduate of our Academy, Sbarra had already shown Burton Albion fans glimpses of his potential long before his Brewers debut, having starred in Birmingham Senior Cup games and even scoring a hat-trick against Hednesford in 2016.
Having already seen the likes of Marcus Dinanga and Ben Fox move up from the under 18s, Sbarra became a key member of the Young Brewers side that competed in the EFL Youth Alliance during the 2016/17 season.
Sbarra was given a professional deal and a squad number in October 2016, Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Sam Rose said of Sbarra at the time: “You can’t question Joe’s commitment; he is always going to do his very best whether he is playing with under 16s or the first team.
“It is very encouraging, first to see him rewarded with a squad number, be around the first team squad and train with the first team, it is all down to him and his attitude and also his ability and talent as a footballer.”
During the final game of Burton Albion’s first season in the Championship, Sbarra made his league debut for the Brewers. Introduced in place of Luke Murphy in the 67th minute.
The youngster immediately showed the Pirelli Stadium faithful what he was all about as he drove at the Reading defence and beat Championship defenders at will.
The following season, Sbarra was involved even more. He played in 17 Championship games and assisted two goals, including one against Derby County at the Pirelli Stadium.
The youngster also played twice in the EFL Cup, assisting a further two goals, the second of which allowed fellow Academy graduate Ben Fox to open his account for the club against Cardiff City.
Sbarra started two out of the first three League One games this season before an injury picked-up against Doncaster Rovers saw Sbarra miss three games. He returned to the side in the Checkatrade Trophy against Walsall and has played 15 times so far this season, assisting one goal.