Hammond: 'Development is crucial'Nick Hammond has re-affirmed his belief in the development of young players, and revealed that is was part of the agenda when he and Anton Zingarevich first spoke to Nigel Adkins about becoming our manager.
Nick was of course our Academy Manager before becoming Director of Football, so there is a perfect synergy in our strategy from top to bottom.
He said, “I believe in the youth development model and have done from the start.
“When Anton and I first spoke to Nigel about becoming our manager, his view on the Academy and the development of young players was crucial. He understands the value of bringing players through. We've seen that already and the relationships between him and the Academy staff are strong, which is positive going forward.
“We’ve added Dean Wilkins recently as well, and with Andy Crosby I believe we have a strong coaching team, Dean also has a very good reputation of helping to bridge the gap with young Academy players which will be an important aspect of his role."
With Category One Academy status now confirmed, Nick believes our youth programme can develop even further.
He said, “This EPPP gives us the chance to progress. There will only be a small number of Category One clubs in the country and for us to be playing the top clubs is massively important. Any player wants to play against the best, and being in Category One attracts players. We can recruit further afield, not just within an hour or 90 minutes' travelling distance as per the previous rules.
“The niche for us is having the facilities and expertise in house, with an excellent games programme, but also with a chance for a player to progress quickly to the first team if he's good enough, this is an exciting opportunity for us.
"Eamonn Dolan and his staff have done a truly magnificent job in guiding the club through the audit process and we should all be extremely proud of having achieved Category One.
“We've done very well with young players in recent years and it's great when boys progress who have an affinity with the club, they care about the club, and if you have that in your group it becomes infectious, it's a very positive thing, and supporters love a player who genuinely cares.”