U21s: A squad within a squad
22nd July 2013
Swansea City Under-21s make the short trip to Port Talbot's GenQuip Stadium on Tuesday night with coach Kristian O'Leary restructuring a new set-up for the club's young pros (7.15pm).
"We have become a squad within a squad,'' explained O'Leary. "We are working and training more closely as a group.
While the Under-21s share the new training ground at Landore with the first team and Academy, O'Leary's squad has been training as a separate group since the end of last season.
It's a move which O'Leary believes will allow the youngsters a better chance of making the next step towards becoming senior pros within the Swans first-team.
"We are slowly increasing the number of players in the Under-21 squad,'' added O'Leary. "It means we can improve our work on the training ground and increase the competition for places on a match day.
"Last season we relied predominately on the youth team players. While a number of them did extremely well, and as a result are still training with us, we were spread too thinly.
"We will still be looking to send some of our young players out on loan throughout the season, like Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone) and David Cornell (St Mirren), when the time and club is right. That means we will always be looking to bring new players in, from at home and abroad, while also promoting some of our better youth player up a level.
The likes of Gregor Zabret (Slovenia), Alex Gogic (Cyprus), Jernade Meade (Arsenal), Ryan Hedges (Flint Town) and Kenji Gorre (Man Utd) have all joined the Under-21 squad this season, with Spaniard Pau Moier Vicente currently one of a number of players experiencing trials at the club.
Rory Donnelly, who has also been in free-scoring form for the first-team during pre-season, is also included in the friendly squad against Port Talbot.
"It is an interesting time,'' declared O'Leary. "The Under-21 set-up was all new to us last season and I believe we are gradually getting the numbers and quality of the squad right. The signs have been good so far.
"As a club we are different to most others as we have a particular style of play which is not easy to master. That's why at Under-18 and Under-21 level it's all about learning and development rather than results.
"It means if and when a player makes the step up into the first-team, they are better prepared to fit the system and implement the style of play required.
"There is an obligation on this club to play a certain way. But, to a certain extent, that style of play is still in its infancy at the club. It's only been in place since Roberto Martinez started to implement it five or six years ago.
"Look at Leon Britton, for example, he only developed into the style of player he is today when he was in his mid-20s.''
Admission to Port Talbot on Tuesday night is £5 for adults, £3 concessions and £1 for children. Port Talbot season ticket holders will be granted free admission.
Port Talbot manager Scott Young is expected to name the club's two summer signings, Gethin Jones and Rhys Griffiths, in his Welsh Premier League squad.
Swansea City (from): Oliver Davies, Gregor Zabret; Liam Shephard, Daniel Alfei, Scott Tancock, Kurtis March, Henry Jones, Sam Evans, Joseph Jones, Alex Gogic, James Loveridge, Jernade Meade, Ryan Hedges, Kenji Gorre, Alex Bray, Pau Moier Vicente, Rory Donnelly, Steven Fallon, Connor Roberts.