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The Use of Youth this season


Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
Slightly bored on a bank holiday Monday and saw this tweet that was retweeted by the club.

In a regular season, this would be viewed as something to be proud or positive about. However, we know that there was a reason behind the high number of minutes given to young players. It got me thinking, the start of the season felt like a long time ago. Did we really give young players a lot of minutes at the start, or has time blurred our vision.

First game of the season, I'm sure some have buried this deep into their mind or erased it with numerous drinks (no-one can blame you!). Seven of the starting 11 were 23 or younger, with all three subs as well. That means 66.4% of the minutes from that first game were to players aged 23 or under. Compare that to the last game of the season, where we also had seven of the starting 11 that were 23 or younger, with only two of the four substitutes being 23 or younger. However, only Bwomono, Hobson, and Egbri played in both fixtures.

This doesn't tell the whole story, so lets compare the minutes played before the embargo was lifted and after the embargo was lifted.

Minutes played by players 23 or younger before embargo lifted: 7,819 out of 14,850 (52.65%)
Minutes played by players 23 or younger after embargo lifted: 12,848 out of 30,690 (41.86%)

Looks clear that youth played the majority of the minutes before the embargo was lifted and this reduced quite a bit afterwards. However, it is worth noting that Egbri and Olayinka both picked up nasty injures. Egbri missed 21 games (potential 1,890 minutes) and Olayinka missed 14 games (potential 1,260 minutes). Had they played the majority of those minutes then it would have boosted those numbers up to near the same as before the embargo. Gard also picked up a nasty injury at the start of the season, but he missed a lot of both the before and after embargo to really make much of a difference.

Some people might not consider 23 as young. In my opinion, at this age you need to be challenging for a regular spot in the starting 11. So lets reduce the age to 21 and younger and see what happens then.

Minutes played by players 21 or younger before embargo lifted: 4,824 out of 14,850 (32.48%)
Minutes played by players 21 or younger after embargo lifted: 5,388 out of 30,690 (17.56%)

Again, Egbri and Olyainka missed a combined 3,150 minutes due to injury and this would bump it up to 27.8%.

Effectively we swapped out our young, inexperienced, below average youngsters for someone else's more experienced and better youngsters on loan (sometimes just plain awful - see K Sterling).