Rotherham United Academy Manager Richard Hairyes was wholly positive when talking to www.themillers.co.uk regarding the Millers’ youth prospects and the opportunities available to them at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Upon being asked about the under-18s setup, Hairyes spoke with plenty of pre-season positivity both for his team and the individuals within it.
“From an U18s point of view it’s been good to be back in. The lads are in a good place, fingers crossed we don’t get the injuries we had at this time last season," he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“Ben Hatton has come back from injury – he’s a first-year who we’re extremely excited about.”
The U18s play their first game of the Youth Alliance League campaign this Saturday at 11am at the Graham Solley Sports Development Centre.
“Kick-off this week is against Grimsby which will be a tough game, it’s always a tough game against Grimsby.
“We’ve been working on more formations this year to try and replicate the first team as closely as we can – so we’re moving to a back three in certain games.”
When asked for the motivation behind the switch, Hairyes explained: “I think it’s just to try and close that gap a little bit [between the Academy and the first team] because sometimes they have to go up and train for a variety reasons, so we’d like to know when they are going to go up there, they’re not in alien positions or alien formations.”
Hairyes was also keen to mention the benefits of first team exposure to the under-18s.
“All in all it’s positive, really positive.
"We had a good day on Wednesday up with the first team – we had an in-house game with them where 10 of our lads were involved in a full 60 minutes. So I think it was also good for the first team to see some of the prospects we’ve got.
“I think the first team pressure is a good thing.”
Clearly keen to look even further into the future, Hairyes revealed the recent activities of the under-16s.
“We’ve had a good look at some of the under 16s as well. This week, they trained alongside the 18s – we’ve dipped some of them in and out so we can see what they’re like with the 18s, and they look in a good place as well.”
Finally, on a wider scope, he told www.themillers.co.uk,
“We’re trying to change a little bit of focus from a coaching perspective with those ages [under-16s and under-18s] this year and put more into them from a technical point of view, and to expose them more to the older age groups.”