Developing youngsters is a neccesity in this current climate. People like Portsmouth, Palace and Middlesbrough need to bring in young blood in order to save their current financial statuses. So you begin to think, who actually agreed on naming only five substitutes on a matchday? Boro are a prime example of how, more than ever, they need to give the younger lads more experience on a first team level.
With Tony Mowbray getting rid of the likes of Didier Digard, Kris Boyd, Leroy Lita and losing Andrew Taylor, Boro now need to repeat the general consensus of last season. The likes of Jason Steele, Richie Smallwood, Connor Ripley, Adam Reach, Ben Gibson and Cameron Park all made their first team debuts last season. Also you can count Luke Williams and Jonathan Franks from the season prior.
However if you look at Boro’s substitutes recently they have all been experienced first teamers. Even Smallwood, who started the last few games last season, finds himself left at home. With Kevin Thomson returning at Crystal Palace, where do the young lads fit into this squad? The likes of Jonathan Grounds and Andy Halliday where involved a lot last season and now Halliday has lost ground by being injured and Grounds has been loaned to Chesterfield. Adam Reach scored at the end of last season on his debut. But this was his year to progress and, although he can do it at reserve level, nothing beats first team experience. Reach’s name hasn’t even been mentioned at all this season along with other academy start Luke Williams. Park, who is next in a long line of talented left wingers produced by Boro, has been loaned to Barnsley because of the limitations in first team experience with the Boro.
Gibson has also been loaned to struggling Plymouth. While Franks was at Oxford before dislocating his shoulder. Boro have also played a dangerous game recently by not naming a goalkeeper on the bench, to accomodate their outfield substitutes, so what chance does Connor Ripley have of developing. And what of other names such as Bruno Pilatos, Charlie Wyke, Adam Jackson, Jake Fowler and Ryan Brobbel who haven’t even made first team debuts yet?
Mowbray has already bemoaned the ruling and how it halts the development of youngsters at Middlesbrough football club – it’s hard to argue with him.
Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger
Scott tweets at @SEasby12