RICKY Duncan on a busy few days for Southend United'a academy. 

EVERYTHING in football starts to get underway at this time of year and it’s been a busy few days for us in the academy too.

I went down to watch the under-18s against Luton for their opening game of the season and we played some really good stuff.

The downside was obviously we conceded four goals and two of those came from corners.

One was from a wide free-kick and another was a ball over the top which was disappointing because we actually moved the ball well.

However, we must learn to defend better on set pieces, it’s as simple as that.

I’m pleased to have Danny Heath as our under-18s coach now.

We often talk about there being a pathway for players to progress at the football club but I think it’s important the coaches do too.

Coaches come into the academy here and they have to know there’s an opportunity for them.

The coaches put a lot of hours in and Danny was one of those.

He’s worked his way up and the natural progression is for him to become the youth coach and I’m pleased he’s got the opportunity.

He’s got all the qualifications and it’s brilliant to have someone like Danny.

His enthusiasm for the job is unbelievable and the players will benefit a lot from having him around.

The 23s haven’t started their season yet but they won a friendly 3-2 at Brentwood Town on Saturday and it’s good for them to be getting a variety of games.

With that in mind, they face Aveley tonight and I’m pleased with how the 23s are performing and how they are adapting to having Dave Huzzey coach them at the moment.

We are still interviewing for the role following Kevin Maher’s departure to Bristol Rovers but hopefully we will have the situation sorted soon.

We have also sent a few of the boys out on loan with Terrell Egbri, Miles Mitchell-Nelson and Matt Rush all going to Harlow.

Michael Klass has also gone to Bromley and I think he needs to be around men at this stage of his career.

He’s got all the attributes but part of his development is to go and be around first team football every day now.

It will be great for him at Bromley because he has the ability, we just need him to mature. This will help him with that and hopefully he can push for the first team when he’s back.

We’ve also seen Dru Yearwood leave for Brentford this week and we’ve known him since he was 11 or 12. Loads of different coaches worked with him and he went into the first team when Phil Brown was here.

Dru played 60 odd games for us and obviously it’s a shame he’s left but if it’s right for the club and the player then that’s football.

We’ve got to go and find the next Dru who can come through now.

Elvis Bwomono is still doing well, Nathan Bishop, Isaac Hutchinson and Charlie Kelman are around it too but we don’t want to stop there.

I can go all the way down to the 13s and say we have one player in each age group, if not more, who will go into our first team.

We’ve got a good academy and I honestly believe that otherwise why else would I be here?