Andrew Crofts: This is a good club for young players

Under-23s coach is delighted with spirit his squad demonstrated this season.

By Bruce Talbot • 18 May 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Andrew Crofts's team finished tenth in Premier League 2 this campaign.

Under-23s head coach Andrew Crofts says the environment at the club is perfect for his young players to keep improving.

Crofts's side finished 10th in Premier League 2 but were only seven points below third-placed Arsenal after winning nine and drawing seven of their 26 fixtures. They rounded off the season with some silverware by beating Worthing 4-2 in last week’s Sussex Senior Cup final.

Several players also made the step-up to the Premier League squad with Evan Ferguson, Marc Leonard, Tom McGill and Odeluga Offiah involved during the season.

By Paul Hazlewood
Evan Ferguson made his Premier League debut earlier on this season.

“Lots of individuals have really progressed this year and hopefully that can continue,” said Crofts. “To be a young player here, you are in a good place.

“What the group have been good at all season is responding to setbacks, which you are going to get all the time in football. We have scored a lot of late goals and when we have gone behind we have mostly managed to stay in games or get back into them.

“There’s a real spirit in the team, a togetherness which the lads have created themselves. That stems from the environment and culture throughout the club with the first-team group as the role models. It’s great for our young players to see that and know there is a pathway at this club for them to progress as well.”


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PJT Highlights: Northampton 1 Albion 2

Crofts and his coaching staff set out at the start of the season to challenge the perception that under-23s can struggle when up against experienced pros. He can point to their performances in the Papa John’s Trophy, which included a 2-1 win over a Northampton Town side who are in the League Two play-offs, as proof of their ability to compete.

“I think there is a perception that under-23s struggle with the physical side of the game but we have worked hard not trying to be a typical 23s team who just want the ball.

“We are hard to play against because we’re a hardworking side. The lads have really improved what is a massive part of the game this season.”