With the Under-18s season underway, our academy reporter Alex Lection caught up with Steven Haslam, who began by explaining the importance of the new measures under which the academy are operating:
“It has been a challenging time for us with the unprecedented situation, and we have been spending a lot of time putting the necessary protocols in place, working on the back of Government, Premier League and EFL guidance to make the environment as safe as possible to minimise risk.
“We feel we have adjusted to the new situation well, and with it being a changing picture it’s about being flexible to any necessary changes to protocol, and adhering to that to keep all the staff, players and their families safe.”
On the pitch, the academy has prospered by feeding a string of players into the first team environment, initially on to the training pitch before upgrades to senior debuts.
Haslam takes pride in the graduation of his young charges and points to the pathways in place at Middlewood Road.
He explained: “It is about looking at the bigger picture all the time. The positive thing this year is we've seen Ciaran Brennan, Charles Hagan and Liam Waldock make their senior debuts which is a great achievement.
“Since they joined the club they have had to put in a lot of hard work and dedication and they have been rewarded for that.
“For all the players in the system to see the likes of those lads as well as Alex Hunt, Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide be trusted by the manager in a first team environment shows what is achievable.
“We are providing the best possible programme we can with the restrictions we are dealing with and encouraging all the players to take advantage of the opportunities available here to progress.”