Now back after their Christmas and New Year break, the Under-18s have a platform for a strong second half of the campaign.BCFC
Now back after their Christmas and New Year break, the Under-18s have a platform for a strong second half of the campaign.
They return to action at Huddersfield Town on Saturday and on the horizon is the FA Youth Cup Fourth Round clash with Sheffield United on Tuesday, 16 January at St. Andrew's.
"I've been really pleased with the Christmas break," said Spooner. "They've been an absolute delight to work with.
"After coming back from pre-season, they haven't always got what they deserved but they stuck with it and kept believing in the way we want to play in the Academy - passing through the thirds and the movement and patience with it.
"They've applied themselves to everything we've asked of them.
"The six months of learning the boys have had, they've embraced it and taken it on board. And I think now that one or two of them are looking really good players. There are some good younger ones coming through as well.
"Since the start of pre-season their application has been excellent and we've pushed them hard and we've really overloaded them at times. And I think in games you see the fruits of that.
"We've been tough with them in training at times about demanding more from your body and we've contrived the sessions to make it particularly hard with little reward, which happens in games. But they've got to learn to face it.
"Whilst we speak about the nice pretty side of the game, we make sure we mix our training up with the nitty gritty other side so that they have that ability to be able to see the tough games out as well."
Several of the Academy players have featured for the Under-23s in the league already: Caolan Boyd-Munce, Ryan Burke, Tai-Reece Chisholm, Odin Bailey, Tommy Anderson among them. Ryan Stirk signed his first professional contract.
And Blues have pushed on those from the lower age groups to test them at Under-18s level, as well.
Turning to the FA Youth Cup tie, Spooner reckons it will be quite a contest. The experience of the previous round 2-1 win at Bristol City should stand Blues in good stead.
"I expect it to be very competitive. We’ve played them once this season. But in the cup form and the league goes right out of the window.
"On these nights it's about who handles the occasion better than the other one. In the Bristol City game there were parts of it where we didn't reflect our true selves.
"Going into this game hopefully the nerves will be out the window. They've had an experience. They know about coming in, in the afternoon and having the pre-match and playing under lights and the pressure of having fans watching you and members of the senior staff at the Football Club as well.
"So, they've had a taste of that now. It will be close, but I'm always confident in our boys because we're scoring goals and giving a lot of teams a good game."