Academy in Austria

Thursday 25 July 2002

This week saw the return of the Academy scholars after their pre-season trip to Austria, which saw them take in two friendly matches, a host of team-building exercises along with the usual training sessions.

The trip came quite early in the Academy's pre-season period; therefore it was the perfect opportunity for the young players to ease themselves back into the routine.

Speaking from the Club's Motspur Park training ground, Academy Director Steve Kean gave his view of the trip.

"It was a good trip. The boys worked really hard, the facilities were excellent out there. We took in two games as a part of our pre-season preparation. All in all it was a great experience for the lads. It sets them up nicely for the start of the season.

"The first game we played was against Vaka Buchausen who are a German second division side. We played their first team so it was a good test. We played them because they only have two or three 26-year-olds, the rest of them are in their early twenties.

"The scores were 0-0 up until the last 20 minutes. It was our first game, so we made five substitutions to protect our players' fitness. After the changes we lost a bit of concentration and momentum, and as a result they scored twice in the last 15 minutes. It was disappointing to concede the goals, but the desired outcome of the game was to get everybody through the match, without picking up any injuries.

"In the second game, we played a team called Interhaching. It was a decent game, I would say that they were a slightly younger side than Vaka Buchausen. They scored first, then we equalised soon after. Again, we rotated everybody around, so in total there was only one or two players who played more than 90 minutes."

With a number of last year's third year scholars turning professional, Kean is hoping for a similar number to make the transition from this season's third year group. Of course, the new professionals will now have to face the challenges of competing with their fellow team-mates to break into the reserve side.

"We've got all of the third year scholars who should be aiming to push into the reserves. As far as professional players are concerned, we have a lot of numbers so it's going to be a test to get into the reserve side. But we think there are a few in there who have to be playing reserve football just to give them a challenge," said Kean.

"The reason for having the reserve team is to prepare players for the first team. The Gaffer obviously has to keep people match-fit, so if they're on the bench for the first team, he'll want them to play in the reserves. But there's also another job that the reserve team can do and that's to produce the next first team players from last season's U19 group."