U’s boss to shield young stars’ development

PUBLISHED: 18:00 10 February 2017

Cambridge United's Leon Davies

Cambridge United's Leon Davies

Simon Lankester Photography

Shaun Derry to protect Cambridge United youngsters

Shaun Derry has stressed that looking after the development of Cambridge United’s youngsters is paramount for their long-term future.

Leon Davies made his full debut against Mansfield Town, but made way for Brad Halliday in the defeat against Luton and missed the Plymouth game with a shoulder injury.

But with Halliday and Greg Taylor on the absentee list, Derry was posed with the question as to whether Davies could be back in contention for the trip to Morecambe this Saturday.

And the U’s boss was eager to highlight the importance that managing the game time of young players is vital.

“He (Davies) is 17. He is a young first-year scholar, he’s not a second year yet,” said Derry. “The first year to the second year is such a big difference.

“If you were to ask any scholar coming into the system to play four to five senior games I think every one of them would snap your hand off, wouldn’t they?

“We have to be really careful with our young players. We’re now in a period of the season where we want points, we want to continue to progress and we want to make sure that everybody is absolutely there to be counted upon.

“I have to pick and choose the minutes that I pick Leon Davies because the league debut that he made against Mansfield, a really physical opponent, was tough for him but he got a lot of minutes under his belt and ones that he can take forward.

“Just because we’re missing Brad Halliday and just because we’re missing Greg Taylor it doesn’t necessarily mean to say that Leon is going to be playing every game between now and when they get back, because that’s not the case.”

And as well as Davies’ situation, Derry pointed to the loans of Harry Darling and Matt Foy, at Bishop’s Stortford and Cambridge City respectively, as key in their growing exposure to senior football.

“This is the process, it’s about developing your own players but making sure that when they are called upon that they have had a lot of senior football,” said Derry.

“Harry’s journey is a little bit different to what Leon’s has been, and so will Matty Foy’s. Matty has gone into men’s football with Cambridge City, and Bishop’s Stortford have given Harry the opportunity as well.

“But for me it is to look after the players with the right people here, speaking to Mark Bonner who knows the boys a lot more than I do.

“The two boys that have gone out on senior loans are the two second-year scholars, not the first years. We don’t want to be sending our first years out on senior loans.”

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