Head of Youth Coaching Derek McKenzie has admitted that he’ll be utilising a similar strategy to that which was used last season in relation to helping his players to pick up senior experience ahead of the season.
“We’ve been inundated with managers with messages and calls for our lads. Some of those clubs do take priority as part of previous agreements, but we’re still being careful in picking who goes where.
The interest in the players is high. I’m keen for them to be playing on a Saturday because I believe that if they’re spending their weekend’s not playing football then perhaps they might be undoing the physical preparation we’re putting them through instead.”
Despite plans to send the bulk of his side out on loan to garner more experience of playing men’s football, McKenzie explained that the club will be able to keep a close eye on the players.
“My coaching staff will spend some of their weekends attending games and running their eye over the lads who are out on loan playing with their men’s team.
“And we’ve also put measures in place to ensure that we’re getting clear communication and feedback from the staff of those clubs. We’ll expect an email on how each player has done over the previous week, both in training and in games. The lads will be allowed to train with the club’s once a week.
“I’ll be looking for all kinds of feedback. Whether it be on performance, attitude, or even reasons as to why a player may not have featured. Even if it’s for tactical reasons, that is information that we can work with the lads on.
“I’ll then go through that on a Monday and it’ll allow me to go through it and address any issues or feedback with players when I see the lads on a Tuesday.”
Expanding on why the new process has been implemented, McKenzie continues: “We felt last season we loaned a few guys out and they didn’t get a fair crack of the whip with their clubs.
“It was very difficult for them and also for the clubs they were with who may have already had settled teams, so we’re choosing carefully where we send our guys. We don’t want our players to have their chances limited.
“With the best will in the world, the young players at Berwick should be good enough to play in the teams. They’re out there to improve – I don’t think they’ll do that making up the numbers.”
Former East Stirlingshire man McKenzie finishes by reaffirming his belief that the loan deals are the logical path to follow for player development, finishing: “The real advantage of the loan deals, it’s the physicality that they come up against.
“A lot of teams in the SPFL Development League last season had really young squads, and while it can test them in other areas; it’s not testing or preparing them well enough physically.”