GARY Caldwell believes the emergence of Jordan Flores and Tim Chow will help inspire and bring through the next generation of local talent at Wigan Athletic.
Flores capped his full league debut at the weekend in some style, the 19-year-old from Aspull rifling home the opening goal in the 2-1 win over Fleetwood.
In doing so he matched the achievements of 21-year-old Chow, who marked his own first league start last term in similar fashion by scoring first in the 2-1 victory over Brighton.
After regularly bringing through youngsters in the 1980s and 1990s, the supply line dried up somewhat as Latics began their ascent through the league under Dave Whelan’s chairmanship.
But with the club now back in the third tier – and seeing the Academy as a crucial part of regaining the good times – Caldwell says the likes of Flores and Chow can act as figureheads for the stars of tomorrow to emulate.
“It’s great – and it’s something I want to develop and encourage even more,” Caldwell enthused.
“For the younger players who are in the Under-8s and Under-9s, to have someone like that to look up to, shows them there is a pathway to the first team.
“Over the last couple of years, the Academy has changed a lot.
“We’ve worked very hard from top to bottom. I’ve worked in there myself and seen what the coaches are doing, right up from the Under-8s to the Under-21s.
“There’s a lot of good people working in there, and it takes a lot of hard work to take someone from eight years of age to play in the first team.
“It’s great credit to everyone who’s been involved in making that happen.”
While Flores understandably garnered most of the headlines at the weekend, Chow was also making significant progress of his own.
His late cameo off the bench was his first appearance of the season, after a thigh problem picked up during July’s training camp in Scotland derailed his pre-season.
“At a time when we needed energy in the game, Tim was excellent,” said Caldwell.
“When he came on I knew what he would give us, and the energy he gave us in the 15 minutes he was on was phenomenal, the numbers he produced.
“That’s what you need from people coming off the bench – to make a real impact on the game – and Tim did that.”
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