Ruth: Albion's academy pathway makes us so unique

Men's under-21s head coach looks back on 'amazing week' for his players in Dubai.

By Matt Bishop • 13 December 2022

Five of Albion's eleven under-21s in Dubai warm up ahead of training last week.

Shannon Ruth has praised our ‘unique’ football club after eleven men’s under-21s travelled to Dubai with the men’s first team for last week’s warm-weather training camp. 

James Beadle, Odel Offiah, Ed Turns, Imari Samuels, Antef Tsoungui, Luca Barrington, Andrew Moran, Cam Peupion, Jack Spong, Jack Hinshelwood and Evan Ferguson were all with Roberto De Zerbi’s squad and Ruth was full of praise for the Italian and how we operate as a club.

Ruth said, “The pathway our young players have into the first team is what makes our football club so unique. 

“Not one day has passed since Roberto was appointed head coach where an academy player hasn’t trained with the first team. That helps our players settle in faster and helps them feel more comfortable to perform – and obviously helps their development. 

“Dubai was no different. It was an amazing experience for them and the fantastic group of professionals we have in our first team welcomed them in and helped them impress.

“I spoke to Andrew Crofts after training every day and after the Aston Villa friendly [which featured Moran, Peupion, Offiah and Hinshelwood] and his feedback was really positive. He is still so passionate about our young players, as are all the first-team staff.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Ruth was Crofts' assistant when the Welshman was men's under-21s head coach.

Ruth believes the academy players being in such close proximity with De Zerbi’s squad so regularly means they can learn first-hand what it takes to make it in first-team football. 

“It's the environment and the standards the first team squad demand from each other that our players can learn so much from.

“Dubai was another opportunity for them to see this up close and personal. For a young player developing, there’s nothing more powerful for them than to see something with their own eyes and experience something in the flesh.

“Whether it’s Andrew Moran learning about how Adam Lallana receives the ball or James Beadle working closely with Jason Steele, these situations that appear allow players to watch and take in information. It’s powerful for them going forward with their careers.” 

While the hard work was going on in Dubai, intensity levels were just as similar back in Lancing where Ruth and his side played matches against PSV Eindhoven and QPR, which extended their unbeaten run against academy teams to 12 games.


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PL International Cup: Albion 2 PSV Eindhoven 2

Ruth was delighted with the efforts he saw following the 2-2 draw against PSV and the 0-0 stalemate against QPR.

“We had players who were disappointed not to go to Dubai, but they had to shrug off that disappointment quickly to perform in two tough games – and we were delighted with how they did. 

“Dealing with disappointment is massive for young players and they worked so hard to protect our unbeaten run. 

“We have a team first policy, which means every action or choice made is in the best interests of the collective group, and that’s what has allowed the squad to grow together.

“We’re in a really good place at the moment. I’ve been so happy with the group, and it’s nice to have everyone back together again after last week. We’re ready to push on now.”