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'Winning isn’t enough' for Watford’s academy players according to Dave Hughes
7:00am Monday 14th October 2013 in Watford FC News
Youth team coach Dave Hughes believes “winning isn’t enough” for Watford’s academy players; insisting the club’s young starlets have to adopt a certain style of play if they are to break into the first team.
Watford beat Bristol Rovers on penalties in the Under-21 Premier League Cup after a 1-1 draw last week, with nine of the players who finished the match having come through the club’s youth system.
“The focus is on trying to develop players – the focus is not on winning the league,” Hughes said.
“If that happens, great, but for the group of players we’ve got we believe if we’re going to win games we’re going to win playing a style that we want to play.
“With this group of players, winning isn’t enough. We have to do it in a demeanour and with a quality that is right for the club and right for the players.
“We’re always challenging them. My message to the lads is if we don’t challenge you then we won’t change the areas we want to improve.
“So we try to take them out of their comfort zone and put them in areas where they have decisions to make and problems to solve.”
Head coach Gianfranco Zola was watching on during the Bristol Rovers match and the Italian regularly invites youth-team players to train with the first team.
“I’d probably say near enough every one of those players [in the squad against Rovers] has trained with the first team which is fantastic – it’s part of their learning process,” Hughes said.
“It’s great they’ve stepped up from the youth team into the first team and a number of the scholars tonight will have trained with the first team as well so that’s again a massive learning curve in their development.”
He added: “They’re young players, of course they’re going to make mistakes and they need to learn from them – if they don’t make mistakes how are they going to learn?”
Hughes said he felt proud of his team for matching a Bristol Rovers side that included ten first-team players in their XI and the youth-team boss believes the experience of playing at Vicarage Road will prove invaluable.
“I'm pleased with them. They’re a really honest bunch, a great group of lads.
“There’s nothing better than having the chance to play here at Vicarage Road with a few supporters watching so I’m delighted,” he said.
“It’s a great experience for them; one they’ll remember, one they’ll learn from and we keep saying for them to learn and improve we have to challenge them and tonight was a challenge playing against some first team players.
“I'm really proud of the way the young lads have gone about it.”
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