Matt Hamshaw talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Following recent international call-ups for two Rotherham United youngsters, which included a hat-trick including performance for Tyrone Lewthwaite, first team/development coach Matt Hamshaw has paid tribute to the club’s Academy setup, which he believes is as strong as it has ever been both on and off the pitch.
The Rotherham-born coach, who worked his way up through the ranks with the Millers to his current post in the first team setup and is heavily involved in bridging the gap between first and youth team football, took time to tell www.themillers.co.uk how proud supporters should be of the club’s current Academy staff and players.
“It's taken us a few years to build the Academy to where it is now but I do genuinely believe that we're in the best period that our youth system has ever been in,” Hamshaw explained.
“We've got great staff in the Academy from Richard Hairyes as the Academy manager through to Mark Hoy, who has come in recently and strengthened things off the pitch in the sports science department.
“I came through the system starting off as a part-time coach and I think that academies have to produce staff as well as players. They're great human beings and the gaffer and other people at the club would not let them be here if they weren't. I deal with them all regularly and we really do trust everything they are doing to bring through the next generation of talent, so I can assure everyone that the youth setup is in the best hands it has ever been in.”
Youngsters in the system have caught the eyes of various international scouts over recent months, while Academy graduates including Ben Wiles and Laurence Bilboe have established themselves as members of the first team group and Hamshaw has been delighted with the work that the youth staff have done to allow the players to slot into their new environments so seamlessly.
“Tyrone and Reece [McGinley] have both been away with the Northern Ireland U19s but Reece has been with that group for a while now, first going out there whilst he was still a scholar,” he continued.
“They've both come back from U19 duty and we've had a few England, Ireland and Wales scouts at games and I think it's a sign that as an Academy we're really developing and producing some players, who we believe we can try and integrate into the first team in the coming years.
“I think that you have to look at the squad that came with us on pre-season. A lot of them might not play this year but you have the likes of Laurence Bilboe, who came through the Academy, Jerry Yates, who is now out on loan and Ben Wiles, who has already played in the Championship and cup competitions.
“We've got Joshua Kayode and Akeem Hinds too and we have high hopes for those two as well. To have that many Academy players within a first team group is credit to the work that the Academy has done to develop them to this stage.”
Hamshaw continued to add that he and the rest of the first team staff have full confidence in the people producing the future talents at the football club and expressed his desire to ensure that the doors remain open for youngsters looking to break into the senior setup.
“You've got to have people that you believe in wholeheartedly because when they give you an opinion on a player, you want to be able to trust that and we do. I think that the link has just grown and grown over the years and I'd like to think that I've had an influence, but so have the rest of the first team staff,” he added.
“You want players to come here and believe they can break into our first team and I think we have that here.
“It may sound a bit romantic but we want the best young players in Rotherham to play for Rotherham.
“Richard Hairyes hasn't been in post long but we've already seen an upturn in how the Academy is run and the levels at which the players are performing. We've had the u14s and u15s getting opportunities in the youth team this year and some of the lads have even trained with us and that's a testament to all of their work that they are able to raise their standards to perform at the next level.”