McKenzie explains youth recruitment policy

Head of Youth Coaching Derek McKenzie has explained how his recruitment policy has been formed with the idea of losing players to the ‘Gers first-team in mind.

“I’m not seeing Under 20’s and looking to sign 19 and 20 year olds exclusively. I’m recruiting across the ages. We’re trying to sign up the best 16 year olds we can find, the best 17 year old, the best 18 year olds we can find, and so on.

McKenzie hopes a few youngsters will break into the first-team

McKenzie hopes a few youngsters will break into the first-team

“The reality is that in a squad of 18 youths, only 3-4 will ever go on to breakthrough. But by recruiting in the manner above, we allow ourselves the opportunity to replace them in the Development Team from within.”

Whilst it’s clear that McKenzie is having to perform a balancing act between recruitment and development at the moment, it’s clear which side he’s aiming to work towards with his current transfer policy.

“By adopting that strategy, we shouldn’t be starting from scratch every year. That also means that we can become a little pickier.

“It might be that this time next season, we’re actually only recruiting say 3 or 4. For me, that allows us to concentrate on other areas, and that may well be time better spent elsewhere.

“At the moment we’re spending weeks on end standing at the side of parks watching players thinking about recruiting them. This would allow a shift to actually coaching them.”

Expanding further on his current squad-strengthening, McKenzie did admit that whilst he was keen to ensure that this time next season things were a little more relaxed in player recruitment efforts,  he is in no rush to finalise his squad.

“We don’t actually have to have our team in place until September when the Development League (East) starts. We’ve a flurry of friendlies lined up, so there’s plenty of opportunities for our trialists to cement their places in the team.

“I am keen to get the right players signed up, and a lot of them have done no harm with their performances so far, so there will be a couple of chats which result in offering some lads the opportunity to sign sooner than later.”