Nottingham Forest academy manager Gary Brazil believes the work being put in across all age groups can help deliver a bright future for the club.
Brazil thinks strong recruitment of players and developing them both as athletes and as footballers have played a key part in the success over the last calendar year.
He said: “It has been a very good calendar year for the academy in general. We are pleased with the progress we have made in the last 12 months. At the top end we are getting boys through and around the first-team which is what we are here to do and to achieve, and they have gone in and made a really good fist of it and have looked like they can handle first-team football which is really good.
“With the boys below the fans can know that there is more to come, and there are some coming through that we are really excited about who haven’t quite got there yet. There is some really exciting talent coming through that will have an impact on the first-team in the next year or 18 months.
“Jack [Lester], Gareth [Holmes] and Ian Bennett take the primary part of the success of that but there is a big team that goes on behind that. We have to recruit those kids in initially and our recruitment team has made some unbelievable signings for us and some of the kids I am very hopeful of making first-team football have come in on free transfers from other clubs, and the progress they have made is quite stunning.
“We have invested money well when we have spent money on players and we are pleased with what we have brought in from abroad. When we do get our hands on them the programme that these kids get is exceptional and as good as what any category one club could offer.
“The work we do on the pitch is very good and we have worked hard to create a new syllabus and a way of playing that we are pleased with. It has given us a good return and the kids like that way of playing football and they are enjoying it.
“The sports science and medical teams around the players is exceptional and going beyond that we have Lewis Bramley working with the younger age groups on their physical conditioning, and then Sam Joyce, Dan McCrea and Brent Dickinson led by Tom Freeman have done a fantastic job creating a really strong programme. We have really good athletes as well as really good footballers and our desire is always at the start of a game, when we look at the opposition, we know we have a stronger and fitter group of players.”
Brazil feels the pathways and opportunities at Nottingham Forest provide the perfect platform for players to progress and achieve the highest level they can and eventually make the step into the first-team.
He said: “We are really pleased with the Under 16s group this year. We have had four of them involved with the England set-up which is something we have not done before and we have boys in and around that when you go down into the Under 15s as well. So there is stock coming up through below which is good as well.
“We have worked really hard in the foundation stage and changed the programme enormously and we are the go to academy in this area that young kids want to go to. They know there is a pathway here and they know they will get an opportunity here.
“They have got to be good enough but there is opportunity there. Philippe [Montanier] has been magnificent with us. He has worked really closely with us and has given the boys the opportunity but they have to grab it.
“We can say to our group of Under 16s or Under 15s that they are sitting next to somebody who has been in the first-team, so they know there is an opportunity to progress early at this football club. Once they push on and get into the first-team, and there are some in the Under 23s at the moment who aren’t a million miles away and Philippe knows that as he is good at assessing them, it is down to them and we are trying to make sure they have the foundation for it.”