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A group that are prepared to work for each other

5 March 2017

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Billy Barr believes it has been another season of progress for the youngsters at the Academy.

The Under-18s have once again finished in the top four of their Premier League U18 North division, and guaranteed themselves place in the elite group against some of the biggest Academies in the country.

Impressive performances has also seen a host of Academy regulars move up to be part of the Under-23s, ensuring the next batch off the production line will get their opportunity against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in the end of season play-offs.

Barr feels the youngsters have shown a willingness and a desire to learn throughout the season, typified by their first win of the year at home to Derby County.

"We probably have achieved more than we set out to achieve at the start and that is a credit to everyone in the group and all departments at the Academy," said Barr.

"As early as the second game of the season we have shown that resilience. We were two goals down against Derby, but came back to win 3-2, and that has really set the tone for the year. We never know when we are beaten.

"From that game on, even though the squad has changed, the lads have shown the resolve that you'd expect of them. We've come back from losing positions on numerous occasions. Everybody that we play always comments on how hard we work as a team.

"We've seen the likes of Joe Rankin-Costello, Joe Grayson, Daniel Butterworth, Stefan Mols, Tyler Magloire, Tre Pemberton, Charley Doyle and Matty Makinson all make their mark on the Under-23 squad and that has given the first year lads a chance and they have taken it. A times it has been a struggle to pick a team because everyone has been firing.

"Those who have been disappointed to have been left out have gone away and dug deep to get back into the side. As a group of characters they've grown immensely.

"Now we are going into the next part of the season with a squad that will be made up predominantly of first years.

"We know it is going to be really hard, we don't have the finances that these other clubs have, but we do have a group of lads that are prepared to work for each other. Their knowledge of the game has grown really well.

"We will now probably look to involve Under-16s for the last few games of the season, we are looking to try and get them in so we can to start working with them.

Pre-season is July but if we can get some work into this season then it will stand them in good stead."

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