U18s coach pleased with a promising season from Reading's youngsters...Under 18s Coach David Dodds had high praise for young Reading midfielder Josh Barrett and feels his progression into the first team this season can be an example for other youngsters in the Reading academy to follow.
After playing a major role in the U18s season, Barrett progressed up to U21 level later in 2015/16 before getting his first taste of Championship football away at Huddersfield on the 8th of March. In the closing weeks of the season Barrett played 45 minutes at home to Preston and also got his first start for the club on the final day of the season against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
“Josh was a fantastic player in the U18s,” said Dodds. “He was certainly ready to move up to the next level or the next two levels. He was involved in 70% of the goals we have scored this season in the U18s which tells you a lot about the lad.”
“Coming off the bench for the second half against Preston and getting his first start against Blackburn I thought he looked comfortable in those games. It’s always nice because you sometimes wonder how they are going to react to that level but I think he did really well.”
Reading have had a history of Academy graduates breaking into the first team and Dodds payed tribute to Barrett for being the latest in that list, believing that others will follow in the 17-year-old’s footsteps in the near future.
“We’ve had a record over the last few years of getting young players into the first team, which I think adds belief,” commented Dodds.
“The players believe they can get into the team and Josh is proof of that. Gabriel Osho has also been in and around the first team and Sam Smith has had a really good year, scoring 20 goals in a really high level of Youth football. There have been a fair few others that have really pushed on this year.”
“The first team management are brilliant here,” Dodds continued. “They’ll take the lads with the first team training, which is a good indication for them just to see how they compete. We try and say to tell the boys to try and use it as an opportunity and don’t just make the numbers, take that chance.”
The Under 18s coach was also complimentary of the first team management who have given the youngsters a chance to progress, with Dodds confident that the Academy will reward the trust put in them by the club.
“Once you get to first team management it’s all result driven and it’s great that they’ve taken these players in. It’s important that the lads, on their part, perform when they’re there. It can’t be a token gesture and the fact is it’s important that the youngsters meet the standards of the level required.
“I think the crowd always respond well to home grown players which is a common trait and it would be great to get some of these lads getting into the team.
“Judging by the level of players we’ve produced in previous seasons at this club and others, the kind of level of players we are producing are good enough to compete in the Championship and even help progress the club to the Premier League. That’s the objective we’re trying to reach.”