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Is the squad strong enough to challenge for promotion?

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Wilko: The Value Of The Youth System

By: Richard Lord
Date: 12/01/2003

RESERVE team coach Paul Wilkinson believes the recent displays by the youngsters at the club shows the true value of the Mariners' youth system and that the first team are beginning to reap the rewards.

"It's good for the club and good for the area to see local boys coming through and it shows the value of our youth system," said Wilkinson, in relation to the emergence of Darren Mansaram, Iain Ward, Wes Parker and David Soames this season.

"It's an integral part of the club and a lot of other clubs don't give their youth set-ups enough value. In the last ten years clubs have just bought and bought but now it's time when you have to produce your own again," he revealed to the Sports Telegraph.

The continuing improvement of the youngsters have raised question marks surrounding Jonny Rowan's involvement in and around the first team, but Wilkinson says the 'eldest' of the young crop is still gunning for a first team place.

"It's an important time for Jonny because one or two of the lads have gone past him. But I've noticed in the past couple of weeks that he's getting the bit between his teeth again."

However, Wilko remains adamant that there is still massive room for improvement amongst the youngsters at the club. "We've just had two 18-year olds leading the line against a First Division side in the FA Cup but they've still got a long way to go."

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