Hale: A culture of development

By SFC Media Sat 23 Mar Saints Academy
Photo by Naomi Baker | Matt Hale

It's a crucial part of the season for the club's young players; particularly so for the Under-23s, who have positioned themselves to contend for Premier League 2 promotion and have an International Cup semi-final to negotiate in two weeks time.

Before that, Saints' Under-18s will be the first team to trial Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium on Sunday afternoon, in front of 30,000 fans; a daunting yet exciting experience for a group so young.

But, what's most pleasing for Academy Manager Matt Hale is the ongoing culture of development, which has seen plenty of young players either transitioning on to the next age group, or making that all-important step towards the first team over the course of this season.

"For the professional phase players, we're coming to a pivotal part of the season," he began.

"With the number of players who have made a breakthrough into the first-team, together with where teams are at in their leagues and in cup competitions - it's been a really positive year.

"We've developed a great spirit among both players and staff, which ensured they started the season right. There's been great momentum from the off.

"It's brilliant to see progression into the next phase and ultimately the first-team - it's what we live for in the Academy.

"With the manager we have in place now, and the staff he's surrounded by, he's been great to work with. His willingness to trust young players is great for the football club.

"This is also the highest number of young players representing their countries that this club has ever seen. Right now, there's almost 50% of our Under-18s group away on international duty and that goes to prove that we're doing the right things."

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