Cobblers boss Keith Curle has once again hailed the quality and talent coming through the club’s youth ranks after six academy-produced players featured in Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy tie with Fulham U21s.
With the now-established Shaun McWilliams starting in midfield, there were also places in the matchday squad for Jay Williams, Sean Whaler, Morgan Roberts, Joe Iaciofano and Shaun’s younger brother, Camron.
McWilliams was partnered in central midfield by Williams and the versatile 18-year-old, usually a centre-back for the youth team, turned in an excellent performance, lasting the full 90 minutes, to back up his impressive cameos against Macclesfield Town and Crewe Alexandra in recent Sky Bet League Two outings.
History was then made in the second-half when Camron, playing at right-back having replaced Aaron Pierre during the break, and Shaun became the first brothers to play together in a competitive game for Northampton since 1933.
Whaler and Iacionfao also entered the fray during the final half-hour and Curle only had positive things to say about Cobblers’ young guns and the club’s youth set-up in general during his post-match interview
“The young players that came in did exceptionally and handled the occasion very well,” said the Town boss, whose side beat Fulham 2-0.
“They gave a good account of themselves and a good account of the product that is the youth development part of the football club.
“The important thing for a manager is that there’s got to be a pathway for youth players that are in the academy system within the football club and the players that are on the pathway have to be good enough.
“I think they’ve done a sterling job.
“From the players I’ve seen, I’m very impressed. I’m impressed with the structure and with Jon (Brady) with the attention to detail that he has.
“When the players are stepping up, they’ve got the fundamentals in place and that’s very important rather than players coming up and not having the understanding of what is required so that’s a massive well done to the youth department.”
The emergence of the Cobblers’ talented youngsters has come at a good time for Curle, who was without 10 first-team players on Tuesday through a mixture of suspension and injury.
He continued: “We showed a strength in depth and showed that the environment and culture we’re trying to create is being adhered to and being enjoyed because players in the changing room are getting their rewards for hard work.
“Throughout the week, that is how we train. We train at a tempo where we don’t want people to play against us.”