EDDIE NIEDZWIECKI has told Stoke City’s rising young stars they will be given the opportunity to press their claims for first team recognition.
Under-21 squad members James Alabi and Jordan Keane have travelled with the senior squad to a training camp in southern France and the Niedzwiecki insists others will be given a chance to follow in their footsteps.
Speaking exclusively to Stoke City Player at the camp in Evian, the first team coach revealed: “I like to have a balance in what we’re trying to do and it’s important that the guys in the Academy and Under-21s understand that, if and when required, they might get a chance to step-up.
“If they can handle it will do them the world of good and it gives the other lads in the Academy and 21s a target.
“It’s not just about the first team; it’s about the group and trying to bring our own kids through and I think the Stoke fans will be very, very excited if we can bring through two or three players.
“It’s important that the group has an affiliation with the city. We’ll give kids a chance and if they step-up and do well they will stay with the group. If they don’t, they know they have to work a little bit harder.”
The first team squad arrived in Evian yesterday evening and were put through their paces on the training ground this morning in a session led by Niedzwiecki.
Manager Mark Hughes and his assistant Mark Bowen took a back seat, watching from the sidelines as the players worked out in picturesque surroundings on the banks of Lake Geneva.
Niedzwiecki added: “We go through what we’re going to do and I lead that but the boss and Mark step in whenever they think they need to.
“By stepping back they can see a lot more and then jump in when they see fit. That’s the way we’ve always worked.
“Everything comes through the boss; there’s only one manager at every club and whenever he wants me to stop things or change things that’s what I do.
“From what we believe, pre-season is a little bit different from what the guys have been used in the past but we’re really excited with what the lads are producing and they seem to be enjoying it too.
“It’s vital to get them playing football as soon as possible. We’ve spoken about the power in the team and it’s important to gel and integrate that power with the little bit of technical stuff that we’re working on now.”