Norwich will become leaders in youth development - Webber

Todd Cantwell made his debut against Chelsea last month

Todd Cantwell made his debut against Chelsea last month

NORWICH CITY will retain Category 1 Academy status and become “leaders in youth development” for the entire country, says Sporting Director Stuart Webber.

There's been speculation that the club could downgrade its Academy following a number of redundancies and cost-cutting measures following relegation from the Premier League in 2016.

However, Webber, who joined from Huddersfield last April, was adamant that the Academy would remain key in future.

“Certainly the aim is to keep Category 1 status,” he told the club’s YouTube channel.

“Look at the success of the Academy this year, with Jamal (Lewis), Josh (Murphy) and you could argue Angus (Gunn) too, as well as Todd Cantwell making his debut.

“People can see that if you get it right, the rewards are pretty high. Look at the Jacob Murphy sale (to Newcastle in July) - you can achieve that if you get a homegrown player into the team at a young age and give them the platform to play.

“We don’t just want to maintain it, we’ve got to make it better, like the whole club.”

Webber praised head coach Daniel Farke for being a key driver of this strategy - by giving homegrown players a chance they don’t get at other clubs.

“We’re really lucky we’ve got a head coach who believes in young players and will chuck them in,” Webber said.

“That’s the key, because there can be loads of good work going on in the Academy - you see it up and down the country, loads of great work by youth coaches, recruiters and sport scientists - but the final stage is does the fella at the top give you an opportunity?

“I think people can see how quickly we’re going forward with that and I believe we’ll become the leaders in youth development very, very quickly.

“Daniel gave Jamal Lewis his first senior start away at Birmingham City (in December). We’d just come off a really bad performance at home to Brentford, when the crowd wanted to kill us, and we’re going away to Birmingham, who needed to win. And Daniel’s chucked in a 19-year-old kid at right-back.

“In my past, there are not many managers who are brave enough to do that. It’s not about winning the Under-23 League or FA Youth cup, it’s how we do we give these players the best opportunities to get in our first team.”

Webber added that the club would be announcing plans to “grow the Academy even more” in the next few weeks.

“It’s not just a case of let’s stick with what we’ve got, because what we’ve got hasn’t been good enough for us to be a successful academy or a really self sustained club in the Premier League,” he said.

“We will be announcing plans in the near future which will involve supporters in trying to grow our future together.”

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