Having seen a number of his development squad handed a chance to impress in Frank de Boer’s first-team over the summer, Richard Shaw is hoping that he can continue to provide the Dutchman with new faces to choose from during the next campaign.
The former Eagles defender hosts Burnley at the Beckenham Training Ground on Monday afternoon as another Professional Development League season gets underway, and he admits that everyone has a spring in their step after seeing some of the club’s academy graduates mixing it with the first-team in friendly action.
“This pre-season has been brilliant as we’ve seen a number of players feature for the first-team, such as Michael Phillips, Nya Kirby, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jason Lokilo,” Shaw said. “We’ve also got Freddie Ladapo and Keshi Anderson to come back, and Kian Flanagan and Levi Lumeka have also been training with the first-team. It’s nice they’re in their thoughts, and they’ll only improve from their experiences.
“It’s been a difficult job at times, but it’s rewarding. When we saw the young lads playing in Hong Kong we were cheering because we feel like we’ve contributed towards that. Even when we had tough times last year results-wise, it didn’t worry us because we knew that in the long run that they would benefit from being out of their comfort zone and being tested.”
Despite some of his most talented players away with the first-team, Shaw has been focussing on getting his squad fitter than ever for the new campaign. Having stretched them last season by fielding very young line-ups, he is hoping that everyone will begins to see the benefits as another season begins next week.
“We’ve won four and lost two of our pre-season games, so things have gone really well,” continued Shaw. “We’ve been playing against men’s teams which has meant the players have had to try and match up against them physically and find ways to win games, but more importantly the boys’ fitness is at a level where they’re going to be competitive.
“We’re good to go this season now. We’ve got some good players in the group, so it’s up to us to push them on and make them better. I don’t want to put too much pressure on them; the development and welfare of the player comes first and then the results will come. We have got caught up in a results-culture so we have to be careful.
“They’ll once again be one of the youngest sides from the league, but if they can take something from every single game they play then that’s all you can ask for.”
De Boer’s arrival has seen an increased emphasis on the academy, and the Dutchman has already been working closely with Shaw and his team to try and unearth some gems for the first-team, and Shaw is delighted to be building a relationship with one of the legends of the modern game.
“It’s been really enjoyable working with Frank de Boer and trying to implement his new system,” said Shaw. “We’ve had some good talks and he’s been to most of our games which is great. All of the staff at the under-23s are thrilled because if you can’t learn from someone like him then there’s no point in being here, because he’s got an academy background and is well-respected throughout the world. We just have to keep asking him questions and keep learning ourselves.”
Monday's development match will now be played behind closed doors for logistical/operational reasons. We apologise to any supporters who had planned to attend the match but the next two home development matches will both be at Selhurst Park where all supporters can attend in the normal way, £5 adults and £1 concessions.