Development Coach Steve Weaver believes Wolves have finally got the right model to bring the best out of their promising youngsters.
The Premier League’s new Under-21 system of reserve football has allowed a clutch of fringe first teamers to play more competitive games.
“I think it is good for our Under-21 players who are in and around the first team picture – like ‘Fordey’ (Anthony Forde) and Dave Davis – to play for us if they can,” says Weaver.
“It helps them as well and is important for them because it means when they are called upon they are ready to go in and play having got those minutes under their belt.
“I think we have probably just got it right so far and are quite happy with the model as it is at the moment.
“But we will still look to send lads out on loan. I think there’s a case that when players have maybe had their shelf life with reserve team football and they do need to make that step then they may have to go out, as has happened with Jamie Reckord, Matt Doherty and Sam Winnall.
“There is a time when they need to go out and get first team football somewhere and I’m sure that may end up being the case with the likes of Michael (Ihiekwe) and Ethan (Ebanks-Landell) as well.
“The other good part about it is that Stale Solbakken seems quite happy that players can make the step here from Under-21s to the first team. If they are good enough they will get their chances. Maybe that is also easier in the Championship but I think that is what the Premier League are trying to do with this league, to narrow the gap to first team football. And if it does prove for us a good step towards first team football then there is no need to send players out on loan.
“Stale is very open to what we have to say and is certainly aware of how the loan players are doing. It’s worth remembering that sometimes it can be up and down with young players, one good month followed by one not so good so it’s always a bit of a rollercoaster,” said Weaver.
“From our point of view it is just nice to have a team playing in a similar way to the first team.
“It has helped Danny Batth get closer, Dave Davis and ‘Fordey’ has been playing, Zeli (Ismail) has got on and Jack Price has been about it and others below are sniffing around it as well. I think we are getting to a good stage now with these young players and maybe it has taken a bit of time to get to this stage but it’s going well.”
Wolves are one of only five clubs outside the top flight to be taking part in the 22-club youth system – the others being Blackburn, Bolton, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace. Split into three divisions Wolves are currently second behind Liverpool in Group 3 after losing just one of their opening six matches.