Former QPR star urges club to focus on youth system
Warren Neill says young players must be brought through
Former QPR defender Warren Neill says his old club need to place more emphasis on bringing players through their youth system.
Neill was one of a glut of young players who broke into Rangers’ first team during the early 1980s to become key members of the side that reached the FA Cup final and qualified for Europe.
Striker Clive Allen, goalkeeper Peter Hucker, midfielders Gary Waddock and Wayne Fereday and Neill’s defensive colleague Ian Dawes all emerged from the junior ranks during that era.
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By contrast, Richard Langley – who made his debut just over 13 years ago – was the most recent youth team graduate to hold down a regular first-team place at Loftus Road.
Neill, who was the last coach of Rangers’ under-18 side before the club gave up their Academy status in 2001, told the Times: “We should have more homegrown players in there and it hasn’t happened.
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“Gone are the days when we had four, five or six in the team who had grown up together – there was a time when we’d be getting one or two through every year.
“I know it was tough with the owners that were there before [the current board], but now it looks like everyone’s pulling in the right direction and this is something they need to address.”
That downgrading from Academy level was the main reason that bigger clubs snapped up the Rs’ most promising young players of recent years before they got anywhere near the first team.
Dean Parrett, who signed for Tottenham, and England youth international Raheem Sterling, who joined Liverpool two years ago, were just 15 years old when they left QPR.
“It’s so much easier for the big clubs now to cherry pick young players, filter out the ones they don’t want and keep the cream,” Neill added.
“But I’d still urge players to stay at a club like Rangers – you should have more chance of getting in there than going for the glory at somewhere like Manchester United.”