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Southend United's Ricky Duncan: ‘Development plans on track'
SOUTHEND United’s head of youth Ricky Duncan insists that it is ‘business as usual’ in terms of youth development at the club as the Elite Player Performance Plan begins to be implemented around the country.
Blues have applied to be granted category three status within the new four-tier system, which will provisionally see them denied the opportunity to play against traditional rivals such as Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford and Colchester United.
Those three, as well as the ambitious set-ups at Queens Park Rangers, Barnet and Millwall, have applied to be awarded higher status category academies.
But, under the terms of the new arrangements, category three clubs will participate in a games programme with category four outfits, meaning that Southend are set to face the likes of Milton Keynes Dons, Portsmouth and Leyton Orient next term.
However, that does not concern Duncan.
“I think we’ll continue to recruit players regardless of the category we’re in,” said Duncan.
“Kids know where they’re going to go get well-educated and where they’re going to get a chance and I think they will know that if they come here they’ll get that opportunity.
“They’ll get the chance of maybe moving on or hopefully getting through into the first team. I don’t think it’ll make a lot of difference to us. We’ve got to carry on doing what we do, and what we do best.
“I actually think we’ll be one of the top clubs, not just as a Category Three club; I think we’ve got a better structure than some Category Two clubs.
“It might be their facilities that have got them that status and good luck to them; if we had the facilities, I would have gone for Category Two and tried to push on.
“But at the moment we’re in the process of waiting for that to happen with the stadium and when we have those facilities I’m sure we’ll push on and go for that.
“I will always push to be the best regardless of what category we’re in.”