Steve Cooper says he wants to have “homegrown, young players” in his Nottingham Forest squad moving forward, using Norwich City as an example of teams benefiting from an injection of youth.
Norwich won promotion in both 2018/19 and 2020/21 in Daniel Farke, having brought the likes of Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Jamal Lewis up from their academy during their first promotion-winning season.
Lewis was sold to Newcastle last summer, but Aarons and Cantwell remained to help Norwich win another Championship title last season.
Forest are another club who have a glowing academy system, with Brennan Johnson, Alex Mighten, Ryan Yates and Joe Worrall all making the step-up in recent years and establishing themselves as a key first-team players under Cooper.
Below the first-team, Forest have turned into a Category One academy who now play in the Premier League 2. Andy Reid’s Under-23 side have enjoyed an impressive start to life in Division Two, with the likes of Will Swan, Julian Larsson, Tyrese Fornah and Baba Fernandes all impressing.
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Speaking in a fans’ forum earlier this week, Cooper outlined his intentions to have more of Forest’s Under-23 players in the first-team squad.
He said: “I believe that a thriving Championship team has young players in it.
“As a rule of thumb, teams that have done well in the Championship and got promoted have had homegrown players in there that just run a little bit more with that youthful enthusiasm.
“Maybe Norwich are an example, with Cantwell and Max Aarons as well as Pukki and Buendia and all that sort of stuff.
“I want homegrown, young players in the squad.
“I know Gary Brazil through previous jobs, I know Warren Joyce who is Under-18s’ coach through previous jobs. I know who Andy Reid is from his playing career, mainly here, and we have struck up a good relationship.
“There is a genuine interest from me in youth and academy football.”
If Forest can keep on developing young players and getting them involved in the first-team, then it is only going to benefit them going forward.
The Reds have so many talented youngsters currently at the club, and they will continue to develop these kind of players under the tutelage of Brazil.
It’s about getting the right balance, for now, as the U23s are doing some top work in the Premier League 2 and Cooper may not want to disrupt that.
But it is undoubtedly refreshing for Forest fans to have a head coach who sees young players as an important part of what he wants to do going forward.