‘Big clubs might not need their academies, but for Nottingham Forest it can still be their lifeblood’ – Kenny Burns

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With another clutch of young players coming through the ranks at Nottingham Forest, Kenny Burns believes the Nigel Doughty Academy continues to be one of their most vital assets

Nottingham Forest and England Under-17s winger Arvin Appiah

At the very top level of the game, clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool no longer really need youth academies.

Yes, there may be the odd young player who beats the odds to fight their way through the system and into their first team.

And they will all make a bit of money by selling on those who are not quite good enough for them – but might be good enough for somebody else in the top flight.

But, largely, these clubs are rich enough to be able to cherry pick the best of every other club’s talent.

They do not physically need to bring their own players through their ranks, when they can just buy somebody else’s players.

If they do conjure up a gem, of course they will be delighted. But the chances of another ‘golden generation’ coming through the Old Trafford ranks, for example, seem slim.

But the same is not true of Nottingham Forest.

For us, the fruitfulness of the Nigel Doughty Academy has never been more significant.

Which is why it makes me happy when I read about players like Arvin Appiah, Alex Mighten and Virgil Gomis coming through the ranks.

There is still room for a little more caution and patience, for me, when it comes to expecting too much, too soon from young players.

Forest were guilty of expecting too much from Ben Brereton this season, for example, before he was ready to be pitched into the fray so regularly.

And you hope that the likes of Appiah, Mighten and Gomis will be slowly drip fed into the first team picture, over the next season or two, to allow them to find their feet without too much expectation on their shoulders.

But, at a time when Financial Fair Play continues to limit the spending of clubs like Forest in the Championship, it is good that they can rely on players like Brereton, Joe Worrall, Matty Cash and Ben Osborn to play a part in the first team.

And it is even better that there are, it seems, a few more good young players coming through on the horizon as well.

There is the possibility that Premier League clubs might try to pilfer one or two of them in the future.

And, while nobody wants to see that in an ideal world, equally, if it brings a bit of money into the club that can be reinvested, so be it.

Big clubs might not need their academies to survive any more. But for Forest, it remains a huge asset.

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