Sky Sports broadcaster Scott Minto believes “times are changing” when it comes to development of young players in the English game, with the EFL an ideal platform for them to showcase their talents.

From Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham to Rochdale’s Luke Matheson, there have been a number of youngsters making the headlines for their respective Clubs this season, as well as an impact on fans, pundits and fellow players alike.

Indeed, as many as 20 of the 23 players selected to represent England at the 2018 World Cup either came through an EFL club academy or made their debut at an EFL club, and Minto believes the signs point to even more opportunities.

“This season alone has provided so many memorable moments across the divisions,” he said. “I think times are changing in regards to the development of players and their talent, and the EFL is the perfect place for that.

“The development of players in the EFL has benefitted the national team, first and foremost. You’re now looking at high-quality players that can play in the Premier League that are now playing in the Championship this season, and that obviously drips down, with Championship players playing in League One and League One players playing in League Two.

“So the quality is definitely higher than ever before, and the standard of football is higher as well. There’s more emphasis on technique, rather than just knocking the ball long, but you do still have the full spectrum of football Clubs and football teams. It’s unique.

“Whether it’s club or national level, you need a manager that is willing to believe not just in one youth player, but several developing talents, and Gareth Southgate is one of those managers. If England do well in an international tournament, it sets the country alight and everyone really gets involved and gets behind the team.”

From Harry Kane to Harry Maguire, there are countless case studies to choose from, too. 

“For me, Dele Alli is an excellent example,” Minto added. “There are many similar examples to show that you can start at a club in the EFL and as long as that club has the right attitude, the right academy and development strategy, you can certainly do what he has done.

“He’s come through the EFL, playing games early on in his career, learning while playing men’s football and then developing his talents that way. When you’re playing men’s football, you’re in amongst it, and you have to deal with it. That is how I grew up as a player all those years ago, and it didn’t do me any harm.”

The Leasing.com Trophy has also afforded a valuable platform to young players in 2019/20, and Minto believes the competition gives them a great chance to progress.

“It’s apparent in the EFL’s competitions, too,” he added. “I think the Leasing.com Trophy has had its critics but I am all for it. I am all for developing talents generally, and this competition gives them the platform to progress, which I think is very important. For the Premier League youngsters to be playing against men can only be a good thing, and these don’t have to be English players.

“You look at the League One and Two Clubs, making it to a Wembley final is incredible and it gives them a chance to win a trophy when they might not be able to do in other competitions.”


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