Cardiff City Football Club has a rich history of bringing young talent through to play at the highest level included the likes of current top flight stars and Academy graduates Aaron Ramsey, Joe Ledley and Adam Matthews.
Bluebirds U21 stalwarts of the past two seasons, Rhys Healey, Deji Oshilaja and Tommy O’Sullivan are currently enjoying first team action in the Football League with loan spells at Colchester United, AFC Wimbledon and Port Vale respectively while first year professional David Tutonda recently joined fellow South Wales side Newport County for an initial one-month period.
The experience for these players at a first team level is essential to the development of potential future Cardiff City players, with Academy Manager James McCarthy voicing his thoughts: “Since the Club established its Academy status over a decade ago we have produced a number of fine talents for the first team. We are delighted that those currently out on loan have been given the opportunity to test their abilities at Football League level. The temporary spells away from South Wales have already proven to be a valuable learning tool, with the likes of Joe Ralls and Kadeem Harris prime examples.”
The recent appointment of Kevin Nicholson in the role of U21 Manager will continue this tradition of first team Academy graduates, giving our current crop of youngsters – and those joining us in the future – the very best opportunity of flourishing.
One of the first F.A. Elite Coaches in Great Britain, Kevin was brought into Cardiff City in 2013 as U18 coach following a superb first season at that level with Exeter City. During his time with Exeter, Derby County and Stoke City, Nicholson was essential in the development of a number of young players who have gone onto play in the Barclays Premier League and Sky Bet Championship.
Speaking following the U21 game with Millwall on Monday, Nicholson said: “We were pleased with the effort and performance level of all the boys this evening, including of course the three U18 players (Abdi Noor,Robbie Patten & Dylan Rees) who have been brought into the setup over the past couple of weeks.
"They have integrated well within the group and have been given the opportunity to perform on the U21 stage. This is just the start of the process, which is to create a pathway which will allow our best young players to be challenged, develop and as a result of that continue to progress.
“Senior Management, First Team Management and those involved within the Academy Setup are determined on bridging the gap between the U18 & U21 teams, further helping to bring through a wealth of young talent to the Cardiff City first team squad in the future. It’s encouraging already to see how our U18 players are rising to the challenges of playing higher level football.”