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Academy pride as youngsters progress

Swans boss Graham Potter included no fewer than four players who have come through the club’s youth set-up in his starting side against Preston last weekend.

Debutant Joe Rodon started in defence alongside Connor Roberts, while Jay Fulton was in midfield and Oli McBurnie led the attack.

“Last weekend was a really good one for us, with four players from the academy playing in the first team,” Rees (pictured below) said.

“Two of them, Connor and Joe, have come through from under-8s and under-9s, while Oli McBurnie and Jay Fulton joined the under-23 squad.

“We have worked with them and helped them develop and now they are playing in the first team.

“It gives the staff a little bit of confirmation that what we are doing is taking us in the right direction.

“We have a coaching programme in place and we have had a lot of investment from the board and the chairman. When we get players through it says we are going in the right direction.

“From the players’ perspective, it shows there is a pathway to the first team if you are prepared to work hard.

“There is a very positive vibe here at the academy at the moment. There is a big desire here to get young players through into the first team.”

Rees says Rodon and Roberts have long been earmarked as players with the potential to go all the way to the Swans’ senior side.

And they are not the only youngsters to make the breakthrough in 2018, with Daniel James and Adnan Maric both clocking up senior appearances last season.

“Joe has always had a lot of potential. His work ethic, his attitude and his passion to play for the club have always been at the forefront,” Rees added.

“Similarly, Connor’s attitude and work ethic is outstanding. We had to stop him working in the gym at times.

“For him to play in the Premier League was exceptional for the academy. It was similar with Oli and Jay.

“We must not forget Adnan Maric and Daniel James played in the FA Cup, and I hope last year was a benchmark for what is to come.”

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