Wigan Athletic boss on Academy and what he learned in midweek

Leam Richardson has once again underlined the huge importance Wigan Athletic’s academy will hold in the rebuild under Phoenix 2021 Ltd.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 10:39 am
Leam Richardson

The Latics boss showed his faith in the system by giving two players – midfielder Baba Adeeko and striker Chris Sze – their senior debuts off the bench against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup in midweek.

Under-23s skipper Scott Smith and right-back Kieran Lloyd also played 90 minutes, and once again didn’t look out of place at that level.

While Richardson is expected to go back to his senior figures for Saturday’s return to league action against Cheltenham, he insists the progress being made behind the scenes is just as important as in the first team.

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“I think looking back to last year – when the academy got ransacked, didn’t it – it’s important we keep growing that area,” he said.

“We’re under no illusions as to the size of the task of getting this club back to where it was.

“We’re still learning about them, they’re still learning about us, and that won’t come overnight.

“It’s important that those lads get the right education and the right minutes at the right time.

“For me, it’s fantastic being able to send Chris and Baba on for their debuts.

“Last season, we were fortunate enough to be able to hand out several debuts to the academy lads.

“And with the academy being as productive as ours is – with so much hard work going in – it’s important to support that at first-tem level.”

Richardson was less positive about some of the senior players who he says didn’t take full advantage of a run-out.

“It was a great night for some of the young lads, not so great for a few of the others,” he added.

“And I think they will be disappointed not to have taken advantage of the opportunity.

“For myself, it’s about learning all the time about individuals, and as part of a team format.

"At the same time you can’t take away the fact that’s the first time that team has played together.

“The relationships are not going to be as strong as we maybe saw last weekend.

“But certainly they’ve had enough training sessions to be able to give a performance, and be competitive, and only a few lads did that.

“We’re learning about each other every day, every game, every training session, each time there’s something happening. I can’t stress enough we’re a new group, a new team, a new management staff.

“We’ve seen some really good signs of life so far, of growing together as a group.

“In midweek we probably saw some signs where we need to be better, and we’ll be doing all we can to do that.”

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