Lead Development Coach On Current SetupLead Development Coach Simon Wiles says signs are promising for the Blackpool FC Academy, with seven scholarships offered out to the under-16s.
The former Blackpool player, who made 31 league appearances for the club, is determined to see youngsters break through the ranks and make first-team debuts for The Seasiders.
He currently oversees the under-13 to under-16 age range, with players from the latter currently stepping up on occasions to represent Ciaran Donnelly's youth side.
“We’ve offered seven scholarships out to the under-16s, which is brilliant for the club and academy because we don’t have to look elsewhere to get players in. We’re developing good players in through the system," Wiles revealed.
“To get seven players through the academy into the youth team for next year and to have lads in the under-16s playing in the youth team this season already is brilliant.
“The biggest thing for me in my role is that the Head of Coaching (Gavin McCann), Head of the Academy (Ciaran Donnelly) and John Murphy are looking at our under-16s and picking lots of them.”
Wiles, who is also a first-team coach at Bamber Bridge, believes the standard has now been set by the current crop of under-16s.
"For me that’s the benchmark now, so next year I’m taking a look at the under-15s and thinking I want Ciaran to come and take seven players again. I look at the under-14s and it’s exactly the same. I think there’s a lot of good players that have a really good chance of doing what this year’s under-16s have done.
“Across the whole phase – 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s - things have been very successful. We’ve won a lot more than we’ve lost throughout the whole age groups. They are all strong teams which is great. Things are looking promising and I’m pleased with the way things are going."
Times have changed since Wiles was a youngster on the books of the club, with junior players now set individual targets on a weekly basis.
"We have individual work and reviews. Each player gets given a weekly target that we work through during training. When I came through the Blackpool academy at the age of 13 we didn’t have anything like that, so it’s a massive bonus.
“There’s a lot of talented boys and we’ve got to make sure that we’re coaching them right and giving them the right ingredients.”