The Elite Development Squads (EDS) are a selective squad across our academies that enables players aged 18-21 to combine full-time training and education as they look to progress through the player development pathway into the First Team.
Our Elite Development Squads are an extension of our scholarship programmes. Selected players at the end of the second year of their scholarship are rewarded with a place within the EDS. Similar to the previous two years before, players will continue to train full-time whilst studying a Bsc Applied Football Studies online degree and/or a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instruction with a Level 3 certificate in Personal Training.
This opportunity provides players an important extra few years to mature and gain valuable experience, helping them get the best chance to achieving a professional contract with the club. There are also other potential pathways that lead from the elite development squad programme.
We believe that this additional time of structured/full time training will give the players the best opportunity to progress into the First Team and beyond. The designated qualifications will also prove invaluable should they fail to make the grade.
As well as having access to our state of the art training complexes, the EDS helps players bridge the gap between academy and senior football - with a focus on the 18-21 year olds - where levels of physicality and intensity notably increase.
The coaching focuses on players who could make an impact at first-team level, exposing them to the rigours of senior football in a supportive environment, but also keeps developing those players who need more time to make that step up.
The development squad has a full programme of fixtures and will comprise a number of players over the course of the season, including:
- Full-time development squad members;
- Selected Under-18 players;
- First team players in need of game time.
The environment gives these young players better exposure to senior football, both on and off the pitch, as players will get the opportunity to interact with more senior squad members and learn the traits they will need to one day represent the first team.
Director of Football Kevin Spriggs stated ‘With a carefully designed training programme and the opportunity to play regular games, the Elite Development Squad will prepare players for if or when a call-up comes. We aim to develop our own players as much as possible, giving them an opportunity. Are they good enough to go straight into the first team? Possibly, possibly not, but they need an opportunity and a place where they can develop and are given time because that’s the important thing. We really believe in our young players and everyone wants to see them develop so this gives all the opportunity to do so.