14 November 2020 16:32
STUART McCall insists City's youngsters are earning their first-team opportunity on merit not tokenism. Reece Staunton has nailed down a regular spot at the back in his first full season in the senior squad. Finn Cousin-Dawson has also started three of the last five games while Jorge Sikora, Connor Shanks and Kian Scales featured prominently in the Papa John's Trophy. Seven of the players involved in Tuesday's game against Oldham had come through City's academy. Football's changing financial environment means that lower-division clubs are likely to lean more heavily on their youth production line.
McCall is a keen advocate of developing City's young talent – but only if he feels they are up to the grade. He said: "It's down to them. You can have a dozen young kids and think that it will be great to give them a go but they have to be good enough. "I can't remember how many young kids I gave debuts to at Motherwell and have gone through and done well. "But it's because they've been good enough. It's not been a token gesture. "I sat down in pre-season and thought Reece Staunton could be a main part of our side. "Now it's down to him to perform. There are other ones we've looked at and thought, 'yeah, they can come through and in years to come can be key parts of our club.' "That's how it's got to be." City added four first-year pros to the squad over the summer. Staunton, who signed a deal in December, then penned another long-term contract at the start of the season. McCall added: "They are always last in from training, in the gym and doing things correctly. They've all got good attitudes to the game and want to learn. "They are a credit to their family because they are good kids. "They've got a real desire among them to do well and are pushing each other on. "That doesn't mean to say that you will be a success and will make a living out of the game. "But you've got a far better chance to make it when you've got the right attitude than if you don't really care about putting the hours in to improve and ultimately succeed." City have sold on some of their brightest young talent over the years and there is current top-flight interest in players further down the age groups. "I think it's a way for most clubs if you've got good young ones," said McCall. "The football club has had a great record of getting young ones but selling them on when they've been 14, 15, 16. A lot of it has kept the club going all the way back to Fabian Delph. "The first or second day I came in, Andre Wisdom was signed for us knowing that he was going to go and sign for Liverpool. "The late Peter Horne, who did a terrific job, was the one who got him in and we've always done quite well. "If you bear in mind Bradford is a big city, we had some decent kids. I wouldn't say we've farmed them out but we released them to go to higher clubs. "But we've always had a good financial package as a reward. "We've got a couple of lads now in the (under) 15s and 16s that are being eyed up by two quite high Premier League sides. "It's a way to survive for clubs at our level. "Hopefully, in years to come, we'll be getting higher up the league and we won't have to sell our best players or the young ones and we can get them through to playing in the first team." Meanwhile, McCall has stressed there will be money available for the mid-season transfer window as he looks for City to pick up. His side sit 15th as they go into today's home clash with Exeter. "We're not near the salary cap so when we get to January, we can go and strengthen and bring in two or three more players if needed. "We've got five lads out who would all be in the squad of 18. If they can get back in and around it and push each other, we've got a healthy group. "But it's one that can be improved come January."