Academy hits Premier League minutes target

Nearly a third of Premier League minutes last season played by academy graduates.

By Charlie Hanson • 20 June 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Robert Sanchez and Ben White played a combined 63 Premier League games between them last season.

Albion's academy achieved one of its main targets in the 2020/21 campaign when 30% of Premier League minutes were made by players nurtured in the Academy.

“It's a magnificent achievement and takes a lot of work,” Albion academy manager John Morling said. “We set the target of 30% nine years ago. There were many years where we looked at it and thought 'is that too high, shall we readjust it?’ but we wanted to keep aiming for it.

“Now the hard part is maintaining and growing it. The top academies have been doing that for the past 15 years, we've only just reached that level. Now we're there, we have to keep producing and that's a great pressure for the academy and staff.

By James Boardman
Lewis Dunk and Solly March both came through the Albion academy.

“If Graham [Potter] and his staff want someone to make the step up, we have to make sure that player is ready. We have a good atmosphere and environment – people like coming to training and to work. The one thing we have done in each of those nine years is show progress. Now that bar is a lot higher than it was five years ago.”

Getting players to the required level is tailored to each individual.

“Everyone's route is different. [Ben] White's route was going on loan because at that time the first-team staff wanted to see him develop his aerial ability, and [Newport manager] Michael Flynn was asked to work on him with.

“Then he went to Peterborough and Leeds and the rest is history. Rob Sanchez also went on loan because we felt that was best for him.

“Others might not need a loan – it really depends where they are on their pathway.

“We have to look at who is in front of them and can they reach those levels in-house or do they need to get that experience somewhere else?

“There's a variety of ways of making it to the first team. The success of that is down to the excellence of the staff and to plot what’s best for each individual player.”