Fulham Captain Brede Hangeland has praised the work of the Club’s Academy following the emergence of a number of talented youngsters.
This summer, the likes of Chris David, Buomesca Tue Na Bangna, Muamer Tankovic, Lasse Vigen Christensen, Jesse Joronen and Jack Grimmer have all spent time in and around the First Team squad.
And, having watched them closely, the 32-year-old has backed them to make an impact at Craven Cottage.
“Those boys have come up over the summer, and they did very well,” Brede told fulhamfc.com. “A few of them came away with the senior squad to Costa Rica, and more have trained with us throughout the summer and continue to do so.
“I’ve been impressed with them, they’ve conducted themselves very well and they all show a lot of promise. Alexander Kačaniklić, Matthew Briggs, Neil Etheridge, Kerim Frei and Marcello Trotta have already made the step up, and now we want to see a few more do the same.
“I watch the Under-21 and U18 games at Motspur Park when I can, and there are a lot of good players coming through. If you look at the U21 squad, a lot of those boys were part of the U18 side that won the national title for the past two years.
“For me, that shows that there’s progression. Now they just have to make the next jump - which, as we know, is the hardest. But they have a great chance here and that’s very exciting.”
As a teenager, Hangeland dreamed of playing in the Barclays Premier League. The Norwegian centre-back now acknowledges that, at such a tender age, making the step into first team football is a demanding process.
“It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “There’s so much riding on games at this level and there’s a lot of pressure to perform. We’ve seen young players go out on loan, get their chance in a lower league and come back better for the experience.
“It’s a chance to learn and develop – to get used to senior football. I’m sure we’ll see a few more of the boys go out and do the same. At the moment Josh Pritchard is doing very well for Tromsø in my homeland. That’s great to see.
“My advice for the younger players is to be patient. It’s extremely hard to break into the First Team and they have to bide their time. But it’s important that they work hard and continue to learn.
“But if they’re good enough, which I think many of them will be, they will get the opportunity to show what they can do. The Club’s Academy deserves a lot of credit, because we have one of the best youth set-ups in the country now.
“The Academy has enjoyed a lot of success in the last three years and let’s hope that it continues. I’m sure it will, because the Academy has a lot of good people; people that are determined to get players up and into the First Team.”