Members of the squad have been involved with the first-team
Following a six-match unbeaten run at the end of 2016, Northampton Town Lead Development Phase Coach Mark Lyons says he’s happy with the progress that his under 18’s side have made as they head into the second half of the season.
The young Cobblers currently sit 8th in the Youth Alliance league and have had notable wins against Peterborough United, Barnet and Luton Town this season.
"The lads have been performing really well," he said.
"Before Christmas we went on a nice unbeaten run and put in a good performance against Leyton Orient, who are running away with the league so it shows how far the boys have come."
The under 18’s team is made up of both first and second year scholars with the majority of players having been on the club's books since junior level. There’s also been some game time for a handful of under 16’s whilst the top performing 18’s are involved with the first-team.
The player pathway to the first-team at Sixfields has been working this season as the 2016/17 campaign has seen Joe Iaciofano make his professional debut in the Checkatrade Trophy against West Ham United as well as being involved in recent matchday squads. Goalkeeper James Goff and defender Ben Toseland also train regularly with the first-team having impressed this season.
"The second years have really stepped up this season and it’s been great to see Joe get his first-team debut. It’s given all the lads a huge lift as they can see the pathway to the first-team squad is working and they’re involved in training sessions a lot more," said Lyons.
"It’s a nervous time for them because they start thinking about their futures and what’s next for them. That can be unsettling but they’ve continued to work hard and have a good attitude which is very pleasing.
"The first years have also been progressing well, it’s a big shock to the system when they come into the building on a full-time basis and they’re doing extra physical work to get them up to the required standard.
"The first 6 months is a big part of their scholarship as they’re learning about the industry and they know that they have to deliver on a day-to-day basis. They’ve all took on the challenge and some of them are really kicking on."
‘Keeper Goff has been gaining men’s football and first-team experience whilst on-loan at Sileby Rangers until the end of the season and Lyons says one of his aims for the second part of the season is to look at more opportunities for his players to gain experience.
"Sileby is a great environment for James to play in. They have a good manager there and we have a great relationship with the club. Men’s football is an invaluable experience for the lads and it’s something that we’ll look at more in the second half of the season.
"We’ll see which opportunities come up for them and take it from there. We’re also looking to build towards the Merit League which begins in March. Furthermore, it’s the time of year where the under 16’s get offered scholarships so we’ll look to give them more game-time with us to see which players are ready for that next step so it should be an exciting second part of the season."