What has happened to Middlesbrough's ‘golden thread’ as Neil Warnock explains club's academy situation

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock still believes the club can utilise their highly-rated academy but admits it will be challenging for youngsters to break into his first-team.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 6:00 am

Warnock, who recently signed a one-year extension at Boro, has previously praised the Teessiders’ youth set-up as well as the work done by under-23s coach Graeme Lee and academy manager Craig Liddle.

In recent seasons, Boro have seen the likes of Marcus Tavernier and Dael Fry progress through their youth system, while there was an emphasis on developing a ‘golden thread’ to promote from within following Jonathan Woodgate’s appointment as head coach.

Of course Warnock will still take satisfaction from seeing young players improve under his management, yet the Boro boss is keen to find the right balance between youth and experience.

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Middlesbrough midfielder Hayden Hackney, 18, made his senior debut in the FA Cup at Brentford in January.
Middlesbrough midfielder Hayden Hackney, 18, made his senior debut in the FA Cup at Brentford in January.

During his recent meeting with chairman Steve Gibson, Warnock discussed potential transfer targets and the squad’s lack of players in the age range between 24 and 29.

When asked by the Mail about Boro’s plans for their academy, Warnock replied: “The 23s are in good hands, when I talk to Graeme and Lidds about the academy.

“There will be opportunities for the academy but it’s just difficult at the moment when you look at the Championship level now, it’s so physical.

“They have got my idea now what I think they should do regarding toughening some of the lads up and I’m sure they’ll take that on board in pre-season.

“The academy is good up here, there are a lot of lads who even two or three years down the line after I’ve gone that will come through.”

In the January transfer window, Warnock wanted some of Boro’s under-23 players to leave on loan , with defender Nathan Wood, 18, joining Crewe and 21-year-old winger Isaiah Jones signing for Scottish Championship side Queen of the South.

“At the moment you just can’t see how a 17-18 year old is going to get in our team if I’m honest,” added Warnock.

“They have got to do the work outside and like I said go out on loan, Isaiah went to Queen of the South and did quite well. Woodsy is playing regularly now.

“I think they’ve got to do this for experience.”

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