Beard: My academy talents deserve to be playing higher

Loxwood under-18s Dennis Probee Youth Cup Mark and Sam Beard
Loxwood under-18s Dennis Probee Youth Cup Mark and Sam Beard

Mark Beard is at a loss to explain why none of his academy stars have been picked up by a professional club.

The former Millwall midfielder saw his Loxwood under-18 side retain the Dennis Probee Youth Cup earlier this month with a crushing 9-2 win over Arundel.

The Magpies first team manager runs the under-18s alongside his Love the Ball Academy and is shocked that none have been scouted by clubs higher up the pyramid.

The academy was started by the former Crawley Town youth manager as a route for released youngsters to get back in the pro’ game.

Seven of those young Loxwood players featured in the Sussex under-18 side that overcame Cheshire 3-2 after extra-time in the semi-final of the FA County Youth Cup on Saturday.

But Beard fears there maybe an element of jealousy running in the scouting networks, with clubs not keen to pick up players them haven’t recruited off their own backs.

He said: “I could not ask for a better bunch of lads. I train them day in, day out and everyone of them has a great attitude.

“I have said it before, I can’t believe no-one has taken a chance with even one of them. They are better than what I see at academy levels.

“We are constantly beating professional clubs when we are playing them, whether it is because they (the scouts) have not spotted them themselves and maybe there is a bit of jealousy there, I don’t know?

“I just cannot believe someone hasn’t taken a chance on even one of them.

“I have spoken to a few clubs in the last couple of months as I have mates at the under-21s at Southend and Northampton, but no-one has even taken the time to look at them. It’s frustrating.”

Since his playing days at Southend and Sheffield United, Beard has become a full-time qualified coach, trains at his academy full-time and offers places to other up-and-coming youngsters.

He is still hoping, however, that some of his young guns will catch the eye sooner or later and prove a point to those that missed out on them after he pointed them out.

Beard added: “I know what I’m on about, I’ve been doing it for years and years - it’s no coincidence that the first team have lost one in 12 against grown men when they have been playing.

“It’s frustrating for me, because I know they should be playing at a much higher level. I hope someone that I haven’t been telling them about for months pops up and snatches them up.”

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