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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Development Section » Wanderers B Team boss Matt Craddock lays out plans for the new set-up

Wanderers B Team boss Matt Craddock lays out plans for the new set-up

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Wanderers B Team boss Matt Craddock lays out plans for the new set-up 13878489

Wanderers’ new B Team boss Matt Craddock has promised to ‘get real’ with his players this season to prepare them for first team football.

After dispensing with the development squad two years ago, the club is now upgrading last season’s reserves to include a specific training group and specialist staff.

Young players like Adam Senior, Luke Hutchinson and Max Conway will provide the backbone of the team, which will again compete in the Central League.

But Craddock accepts that youth football alone will not adequately develop his players – and plans to enhance their structured midweek fixture list with games against senior non-league sides in the North West.

“It is something we have talked about – and the board have discussed it too. We have to have a competitive games programme,” he told The Bolton News.

“Just playing Under-23s football might not provide the realism that these guys need to step into League One. We need to supplement that reserve league with additional fixtures.

“So, we’ll play against Under-23s from category one academies but we are also playing against non-league men’s teams. We’ll play against reserve teams and everything in between.

“I guess our role is to provide that varied games programme to replicate what the first team will be involved in.”

The decision to bring back a bridge between youth team and first team was made last season but the lack of personnel meant players as young as 16 were being pulled in to play against reserve teams containing Premier League professionals.

Wanderers have yet to confirm how many of last year’s second and third years scholars will be kept on but they too will feature in the B Team set-up, alongside a scattering of new signings gleaned from exit trials held over the summer.

Craddock is confident the team can better prepare players for the rigors of senior football.

“The B Team will give us some time, and that is very important when you are developing players,” he said. “To ask a 17 or 18-year-old to be ready to compete in a very good brand of football in League One is often a big ask.

“This gives players time and an environment where they can develop. We start to replicate things as the first team do them, but it gives them more time and focussed energy, support their development, so we can edge them towards being ready for the first team.

“It isn’t always later developers – the point for the B Team is that we have a squad which can focus on individuals and what their needs are at that stage of their career.

“Sometimes – as we have seen at Bolton – younger players can be pushed beyond their current capabilities and in the short term that might be positive because it helps develop resilience, mental strength, but in other areas it can hinder development too.

“We need to give specific support. First team staff’s priority has to be results and sometimes players between those squads and the games don’t always get the time and help they need.

“The point of this is that we can take that time, focus the energy on their individual development, and that should lead to having a competitive team but also push that player closer to the first team if and when they are needed.”


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