Reserve team football just no preparation for life in the Championship

BILLY Clark has hit out at the current state of reserve team football across the country – claiming it does nothing to help young players break into the first team.

The centre midfielder spent his entire one-year professional contract with Ipswich in the reserves, before being released at the end of last season.

This gave him a valuable, if unwanted, insight into life in the second string and he was left distinctly unimpressed.

Keen to get across that he was not making excuses for his own plight, Clark played no more than 10 reserve team games last season – often having to go at least a month without any match action.

And when they did eventually take to the pitch, Town were often up against a League Two second string, giving Clark and his team mates little chance to impress.


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The problem has been voiced by manager Paul Jewell who has since decided to withdraw the reserve team from the Totesport Football Combination East Division and arrange friendlies instead.

And Clark, who scored on his reserve team debut as a 16-year-old, admitted: “Playing against reserve teams from a League Two side doesn’t prepare you.

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“It’s not going to be anything like playing in the Championship, so I don’t think that really helped. And when you are playing a game every month or so, you are never going to get anything out of it.”

Clark’s only chance to shine came in training but that wasn’t without its problems as well.

He explained: “The young players trained with the first team when they were needed but that sometimes left about six reserves training on their own. It is hard to get anything out of that really.”

Clark, who believes a Championship reserve league would address the problem, holds no grudges to Jewell or the club.

He is a mature young man who accepts why he wasn’t offered a new deal at his home-town side.

But with several of his former team mates only offered a short-term deal by Jewell, he has one final message for the likes of Ronan Murray and Jack Ainsley: “If they are not playing, they need to try and go out on loan. At this time in their career, they need to be playing as much as they can to try and impress the manager.”

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