The Sheffield Wednesday Under-23s have been in fine form this season and currently occupy third place in the Professional Development League.
At the heart of the side is central midfielder Sean Clare, the 20-year-old signed a year-long contract with the Owls earlier in 2016, and has since emerged as an asset to the squad with his commanding displays.
Three months into the new season, he is happy with his development at Hillsborough, he said: “I am enjoying it.
“It’s a good place to develop with a lot of games for the Under-23s, and bridge the gap between them and the first team.
“So, if I do get a chance in the first team, then I’ll be ready to take it.”
The former Charlton youngster honed his skills at the Nike Academy before joining the Owls and has already tasted league football as a loanee with third tier with Bury, making four appearances.
The midfielder said: “The loan allowed me to see the professional side of the game, gave me a taste of the proper first team, and made me more driven to get that more.”
Clare was involved in Carlos Carvalhal’s pre-season training this summer, jetting out to Portugal alongside fellow Under-23s George Hirst, Jack Lee, Jack Stobbs and Connor O’Grady.
Clare reasoned these experiences were valuable additions to his learning curve, saying: “Nike Academy allowed me to think about my game and build myself physically, get faster, and be sharper.
“I really enjoyed learning different things from the senior players at Wednesday, whether they are in my position or not – learning how they play, and how they are about training, about being around in the hotels and the trips.
“It helped me to push on. I feel that from watching them, I am gradually closing the gap, and one day I’ll be up to that standard hopefully.”
Clare is patiently biding his time at Wednesday, and shared his mantra to success: “If you don’t believe in yourself, you are never going to get anywhere.
“I just try and believe in myself, take on what the coaches are saying, try and do that, and just believe.”