Bringing youth, U21 and senior squads together in Mansfield Town’s pre-season training camp in Portugal is a vital first step to creating a proper first team pathway, believes manager David Flitcroft.
The Stags boss wants to forge much closer links between the different levels of the club to make sure youngsters can see every opportunity to go all the way into the first team.
Flitcroft has already had youth team players training with the senior squad and is looking forward to integrating them more in Portugal in July.
He said: “The big thing for me is merging the youth team and U21s out there.
“It’s vital to collaborate ideas and cascade them down. We have had some youth team players training with us and I don’t want them and the U21s to come into our training environment and not know what’s expected of them.
“They need to know the standard. It’s probably 30 to 40 per cent less intense training with the academy than it is with the first team.”
He added: “You can now see young Jordan Graham catching up with that training intensity level and mixing it.
“He’s gone from mixing it with the youth team players to now mixing it with a Krystian Pearce, who will leave a bit on him – old school him a little bit – or a Zander Diamond.
“They don’t want out-smarting by a young upstart, so they find a way of leaving something on them and making it difficult for them.
“As a young player you then have to come up with something different and make sure your body strength is right.
“I love it when a young player has to work out something different for him to improve. I want to get that pathway going next season.
“I want to be signing young players that want to come to the club and want to see a pathway.”
On the camp overall, he said: “A pre-season training camp is what it is. It’s a week of foundation work and basic principles of what you’re going to do all season.
“Inside seven days you can get almost get between 18 and 20 sessions with the team which is unheard of at other times.
“You have total control of the players, staff, down to diet, down to analysts, down to fitness work. From a conditioning point of view it’s absolutely vital you get so many sessions in.
“It’s always different if you set the camp in another setting, another country.
“We are working with a licensed agent to try to get a game out there. It will be isolated and out of the way.”