Often Partisan

Young Guns

As you may know, Jake Jervis and Akwasi Asante are out on loan currently to Preston North End and Northampton Town respectively. With Blues currently only having three strikers in the first team squad I thought it would be worth taking a look at the youngsters’ progress.

Jake Jervis

Having seen Jervis a few times for the reserves and the youth team I was slightly surprised that we offered the Wolverhampton-born youngster another year contract; he reminded me of a younger version of Cameron Jerome but without the goals and I honestly couldn’t see him making it for Blues. However, it seems that the loan spells he has had this year have been a boon for him as he’s been getting first team action, and after scoring five goals in fourteen appearances for Paolo di Canio’s Swindon, he’s stepped up a division to play for Preston North End.

Having scored in both of his games in his new loan spell, interest has perked up in JJ. All of a sudden people on Blues messageboards are wondering why Jake is spending time out on loan when the truth is the squad at St Andrews is a little stretched. Notwithstanding that Blues only have three senior strikers currently, there is also a lack of pace up front for Blues – something Jervis does have in his locker. Should we recall him and get him into the first team?

From reading comments in the Lancashire Evening Post, it would suggest that Jervis isn’t quite ready for the first team. Despite scoring two goals in two games for a team that isn’t giving him much service, it has to be noted that these goals have been scored from a combined total of about eight yards. There is something to be said for players being in the right place at the right time, and goals are a striker’s game. However, there is also the counter argument that Jervis hasn’t offered Preston much else; lilywhites fans have seen him as raw and lacking strength. There have been also criticisms that he doesn’t win his fair share of headers although again, this could be a product of a lack of service. I think Hughton has got it right – if Jervis comes back he’d be fourth choice striker and he would struggle to make the bench like Adam Rooney did whilst Chris Wood was on loan. Jake is getting first team football – which is massively important for his development, and if we’re desperate, we have immediate recall. It’s the best of both worlds for both Jake and Blues.

Akwasi Asante

I’ve seen burly Dutch forward Akwasi Asante play a few times, and unlike Jervis he’s always impressed me. Asante bustles through defences, using his strength to break free of tackles and his shooting isn’t bad. Last season Akwasi suffered quite a bad injury, and it set his development back quite a bit after he exploded into the youth team with a five-goal haul against Spurs.

Akwasi is learning his trade at bottom of League 2 side Northampton Town, where he is being paired with young WBA forward Saido Berahino. In Akwasi’s three games he’s scored once, and provided one for the aforementioned Burundi-born striker Berahino. It’s been a tough baptismal for Asante; the Cobblers having been twelve games without a win prior to his making a debut against Shrewsbury and his first goal came in their first win for the Cobblers since the start of October.

Unfortunately, there is less information about Akwasi around. The match reports from the Northampton Chronicle and Echo don’t give much information at all about matches, so I’ve had to rely on football messageboards to gauge his progress. One thing I picked up straight away is that most see Asante’s role best as an impact sub; someone to run at tired legs and give an extra bit of oomph in the last 30 minutes. However, his goal against Morecambe was a peach – and there does seem a lot of love for Akwasi’s strength and inspiration on the ball. This loan spell is going to be a learning curve for him and I suspect the fact he’s seen as someone who should be utilised as an impact sub for a League 2 side should demonstrate that the Dutch youngster is some way off the first team.

Both players are taking a big step in their professional career; first team football at any level in the Football League is a lot different to turning out for the stiffs at the training ground behind closed doors or playing under the floodlights in the Birmingham Senior Cup. It’s about improving consistency now and being able to prove to Chris Hughton that they can play to a good level on a match by match basis. This is where many youngsters fall by the wayside as it’s now about improving mentally as well as physically and continuing to have the drive and ambition to succeed and go further.

My personal opinion is that if Blues can’t bring another striker of a sufficient calibre in prior to the window closing then they should bring Jervis home and say to him – you’ve got less than six months left on your deal, now prove that you’re worth another one. With the inevitable injuries and suspensions Blues will suffer he’d get a chance sooner or later and it would be down to him to take it.

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12 Responses to “Young Guns”

  • Julian says:

    You and I would have scored JJ’s goals, so yes they don’t prove anything. Asante is just top raw.

  • Chaz says:

    PNE fan here: good article – very interesting to read.

    All I would add is don’t put too much faith in comments you read on the LEP – posters there tend to be a bit hysterical and judgemental.

    The reality, I think, is that Jake has performed well at PNE in an unsettled, manager-less team and should be given credit for that.

    We’ve now appointed a new manager who should settle the ship and who I think will be a good influence on younger players such as Jake in terms of fitness, training, confidence, preparation, ‘sports psychology’ etc etc.

    Hope that gives you a bit more positive feedback: he’s a young player, learning his trade, doing well so all credit to him.

  • skareggae72 says:

    You can add another to the young guns list,Eddie Gnahore has just been promoted to the 1st team (squad number 34),unfortunately he is a midfielder not a striker.

  • BlooFlame says:

    Almijar, It’s a good thing to analyse players and how they’re doing, but I think we should be very cautious about making any negative statements. They are very young and not everyone is a TF or a Wayne Rooney at a young age. I recall Newcastle rejected Shearer. It depends on their own devekopment and each of us is different as you know. So i think putting pressure on what can only be called an apprentice in “old terms” is a little premature i.e. “you got 6 months or else”. They are well on their way each at their own pace. CH is doing a great job with them and I’m sure they will all come good. That said you do have an advantage over me by seeing them regularly.

    • almajir says:

      Unfortunately, most young pros don’t come good – most don’t make it at the level Blues require. I know that sounds brutal but it’s the truth.

      However, it’s why it’s important there are things in place to pick up players who are late developers etc – like the Kevin Phillips of this world.

  • Sophie Bane says:

    I’ve not seen either of them play yet so can’t really comment on Jake or Akwasi specifically – but I just hope that the one good thing to come out of our lack of cash is that the youngsters do get more of a chance.

    Previously, it seems that all we’ve done with our Academy kids is loan them out for a few months then sell them for next to nothing. Sone Aluko is a prime example of this – sold to Aberdeen far too soon, never given a chance at St Andrew’s, then puts in a Man of the Match performance against Bayern Munich and is now at Rangers.

    Fair enough they might not all make the cut, but selling our youngsters for a pittance to other clubs when you’ve done all the development work with them just doesn’t make any sense.

  • parkp says:

    I think its great to see a good group of youngsters coming through, remember Simon Sturridge? Maybe one of Jervis or Asante could be our new Studge.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    The good thing to come out of not having any money is we are having to use our resources to the full. For years our reserves haven’t been a backup to our first team and just a method for injured first teamers to regain their fitness. I remember under TF when we didn’t have a fit first team regular striker so he played Darren Purse (a defender) up front. It was a similar situation under Bruce and McJudas where the kids were never given a chance to play not even in the cup games. The current crop of youngsters sound promising. We’ve looked enviously at the youth coming through the ranks at the likes of Villa, Everton and Southampton for an absolute age. I think it was the academy disbanding policies of Karren Brady that has set our youth team back for so long. So to mis-quote Karren Brady – Why pay money to buy food at the supermarket when you’ve got it growing free in your back garden.

    • Dirty Bertie says:

      How much does the academy cost? I don’t think it’s free. Only the top PL teams can afford to lose money on such gambles.
      Brady had a business brain which got us out of the mire.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    She certainly had a business brain especially when it come to looking after herself but how much money do you save in comparison to buying players from other clubs. It’s more of a gamble paying big money for a player only for them to flop. What do you think Butland, Mutch and Redmond are worth in todays market? I’d say a hell of a lot than we’ve invested in them.

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    If we don’t get into the Premier League then there may be no point in having a youth set up at all. The Elite Player Performance Plan changes in October has lead the likes of Barry Fry and Dario Gradi to suggest that the future of their respective clubs schemes need to be seriously reconsidered.



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