Often Partisan

Blues Young Guns to take on Newcastle in u21 Premier League Cup

Blues Development Squad take on their Newcastle United counterparts in the U21 Premier League Cup today at St Andrews (2pm kick off). The game which is free to season ticket holders is a good chance to see some of the younger players coming up through the ranks with Blues.

One of the few good things to come out of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was the creation of the U21 development leagues. Reserve team football had become very stagnant with many teams such as Blues not bothering to enter reserve leagues citing disparity of squads and lack of competitiveness amongst other reasons. However, since the PDL came in with its strict rules on overage players and regular competitive fixtures I don’t believe that it is coincidental that the standard of player coming through the ranks at Wast Hills has slowly improved.

One of the biggest gaps in Blues’ squad in recent times has been the lack of players between the ages of 18 and 21 and I think we’ve seen that more players are now coming through and are managing to get new contracts after leaving the academy such as Mitch Hancox. However, we’ve also seen how it can help develop some of the younger players and it’s my firm belief that Demarai Gray has made it to the first team thanks in no small part to his development in the u21 squad.

It has also opened up to those lucky enough to have the time the chance to see some of the younger players in action (either at St Andrews or the training ground) which for me helps the reconnection of the fans with the players. One thing I’ve noted about today’s fixture is that the club intend to stream it in full via youtube meaning those fans who can’t make it due to work/family/other commitments (like myself) can watch it for free – when the link becomes available I will add it to this article.

Today’s fixture should see run outs for Dariusz Dudka and Aaron Mclean as they look to build their fitness up for the first team and I would expect both to start as two of the three overage players allowed. Former Crewe and Chester City forward Brendon Daniels is also expected to play for the side as a trialist; hopefully there will be places for players like Koby Arthur and Reece Hales who have been on the edges of the first team squad to show what they can bring to the table.

The club have confirmed that the match is free to season ticket holders (although they must show their card for entry); non season ticket holders will have to pay £4 (adults) and £2 (children) in advance as there will be no cash turnstiles. The match kicks off at 2pm and I would expect only the Kop side of the ground to be open.

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