Coaches savour first-team experience

10th January 2018

Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack have labelled their time working with Swansea City’s first team as invaluable.

The coaching pair, who have led the under-23s for the past three seasons, worked alongside Leon Britton during his stint as the Swans’ caretaker manager.

Toshack was alongside Britton in the dugout for the Premier League games against Crystal Palace and Liverpool, with Richards watching both games from the stands alongside the club’s team of analysts.

“It was a tremendous experience,” Richards said. “Both Cameron and I were very grateful to have the opportunity to coach at that level.

“We thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with the players and felt we learned a lot from the experience.”

Since the arrival of Carlos Calvalhal in late December, Richards and Toshack have resumed their regular roles with the development side

They were back at helm for the Premier League 2 victory over Chelsea last weekend, which was their fourth successive league victory.

And the two coaches aim to use what they have learned at first-team level as the work with the Swans’ emerging stars.

“It gave us both a great taster of what coaching at the highest level is like,” Toshack said. “We now want to take what we learned and feed it back into the under-23s.

“We have found ourselves asking more from our players since working with the first team.

“If our young men want to play at the highest level they have to ensure they are consistent and minimise mistakes. Our game against Liverpool proved that if you give the ball away, you get punished.

“We have worked hard and continued to adapt what we have learned into development football and want to continue to be competitive and win as many games as possible.”

With the likes of Oli McBurnie and Connor Roberts earning game-time at senior level, and Tyler Reid recently making a loan move to League Two side Newport County, the under-23 management team are keen to ensure more academy players find a path to first-team football.

“It has to be the right time, but the younger players need to be given the opportunity,” Toshack said.

“If we can get academy players in and around the first team, they develop from prospects to products which is what our overall goal is.”

Richards added: “I was lucky enough to come through Swansea City’s youth system to play for the club.

“We are aware of the leap these players have to take – it is big.

“But we also know that if we can give local players an opportunity then we have supporters who would embrace it.

“We want our lads to be the best they can be. It is something we are trying very hard to deliver and achieve.”