With 29 goals this season, and scoring just 79 seconds into his debut for England, it is no surprise that Harry Kane is the name on everybody’s lips at the moment.
The Tottenham 21 year old has established himself in the first team after multiple loans to lower league clubs, and his sudden rise to household name status certainly begs the question - how many other academy players are there who are capable of as much as Kane, but can’t get a game?
|In form Kane|
My bet is that there’s a few, and that is one of the reasons I am an advocate of getting home-grown players into our Football League and Premier League teams. The academy system can be a brutal one - one where impressionable and vulnerable children and teens are taken out of Sunday League, and rocketed into a much more intense regime.
From there, some of the academy teens will choose the sport as their main focus, believing that a career in football will materialise, and therefore possibly neglecting their academic prospects. This is all well and good if the outcome was that a higher percentage of these teens are given a chance.
But the reality of the situation is that many academy players either are released at an age where it is too late to make the most of their education, or end up moving down into Non League football where they must balance their game with a weekday job as well.
I’m not suggesting that every academy player is deserving of a Premier League starting line up position, as I am fully aware that one of the reasons behind the academy set up is to be able to filter these players and select the elite.
However what I am suggesting, is that homegrown players - players defined as being registered with any club affiliated to the FA for a period of three seasons prior to their 21st birthday - ought to be given more of a chance within the Football League and Premier League.
Not only will this benefit of the player themselves, but I also believe it will contribute to a gradual improvement in the national side. This is because if more homegrown players are given a chance to shine in the League, it increases the number of players competing for a place in the England squad. In turn this forces players to try and play better, and gives the manager a greater pool of talent to select from.
On a more selfish note, there is also an immense amount of pride involved when seeing a footballer who has grown up and developed with the club you support, make the transition from being a reserve team player, or one who has been out on loan for the past two seasons, into one who scores 79 seconds into their England debut.
If Harry Kane can do it, who is to say that there aren’t plenty of other national treasures hidden in our academy teams with something to give.