Several young players from Wolves’ under-18 side have made the step up to under-23 and senior football in recent weeks showing the player pathway is in full force at Molineux.
Christian Marques, Chem Campbell and Lewis Richards, all of whom started the season as under-18s, are now fully integrated into the under-23s, with Campbell becoming Wolves’ second youngest ever appearance maker when he stepped out on his senior debut for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup last month.
Although this has left gaps in the under-18 squad, head coach Steve Davis is pleased with how their roles have been filled by schoolboys Kan Kandola and Oliver Tipton – demonstrating the player pathway is clear for all of the players to see and something his future stars can aim for.
On players moving up to the under-23s
“At the start of the season we had everyone available, with Christian, Chem and Lewis, who we’ve lost now to the 23s. What this has done to the rest of the group it’s shown them that if they can get it right and put in good performances for the under-18s, they have a chance of stepping up.
“Not just stepping up to the under-23s, but also to the first-team – training regularly with both the 23s and the senior players, going down to the first-team pitch and working with the manager and his coaching staff.”
On the player pathway at Wolves
“Those three going out of the group has definitely changed the mentality among the rest of the squad and given them that pathway. It’s there, and they can see it clearly. They can see there are opportunities to develop at this club if they get everything right on the pitch and off the pitch.
“The three of them have done that really well, developed quickly and moved up quicker than we all thought they would. They’re only young; Chem and Christian are just 16 and Lewis being 17, and we did very well at the start of the season because we had them in the team.
“The players can see the pathway because those three have gone up – which is brilliant – and we hope three or four more will go up to the 23s after January because a couple of them are regularly with the first-team and doing well.
“When young players can see a pathway, it gives them a real character and something to really go for as well.”
On gaps needing to be filled by under-16s
“We hope more players move up because that’s what we want as coaches, to see our players progress and develop, but obviously that leaves gaps in our squad.
“If the players do move up, we see that as us doing our job well, and it also gives an opportunity for the under-16s and the schoolboys to fill those gaps.”
On Kam Kandola and Oliver Tipton stepping up
“It might have come earlier than they might have expected, but it poses them – and us – a real challenge and test, but a great opportunity. If they are good enough at 15 and deserve to play at under-18 level, then that’s what we should do.
“It’s given players like Kam and ‘Tippo’, who have come into the team over recent months, early opportunities. They’re only 15/16 years of age, they’re not even scholars yet – those decisions have still got to be made on them – but it’s given them opportunities to show what they can do.
“Our recent games have been really difficult, especially with them both being in the back three, but we’ve seen how they’ve done, and the exciting thing is that it’s their chance now to be the next Lewis or the next Christian.”
On developing as a team
“The results have been a bit different of late, we did really well in China, but from a development point of view, I’m really pleased with the way things have been going and they’re doing really well.
“We’ve conceded a few more goals, which is something that you expect, but you hope in time that we’ll start to keep clean sheets again and their performances will get better.
“The good thing about Wolves is that if you do well, if you have talent and if the attitude is right then you’ll get a chance – simple as that.”