PLANNING for next season and the club’s long-term future will be stepped up a notch tomorrow with the visit of Exeter City.
Manager David Flitcroft has highlighted the Devon club’s academy as the perfect template for the JD outfit to follow after admitting serious failings with their current set-up.
The Shakers boss released all but two of the final-year scholars at the club’s academy on Monday, with striker Regan Walker already being handed a pro contract earlier in the season and fellow forward Navid Nasseri kept on for an extended trial.
He will now be picking the brains of Grecians boss Paul Tisdale and their academy manager Simon Hayworth when they visit the JD Stadium tomorrow before developing a long-term plan for Bury’s academy over the summer.
“Exeter have got it right - I think they have got six or seven players in their first-team squad that are homegrown talent,” said Flitcroft, who has had to pick up the pieces of Bury's academy since taking over as manager in December.
“Paul Tisdale had an eight-year plan (when he arrived at Exeter) and on the seventh season he has got kids in (to his first team set-up).
“They have got a fantastic system down there and we are going to try to speak to Paul and Simon Haywood and try to learn from them.”
The Bury boss will go into that meeting with the experience of Monday night still fresh in his mind.
“Monday was a difficult day – it was a tough day. Two of the lads were crying on me,” he revealed.
“You have almost ended some of the lads’ dreams of playing pro football.
“But we will right the wrongs. It’s a school that has failed, without a shadow of a doubt.
"The only way you can do that is by getting new teachers in and start teaching these kids the right way from eight years upwards.
“We will get them physically stronger and we will give them a plan – then it is up to the kids.”
Flitcroft’s focus moved to the future after back-to-back wins over Northampton and Bristol Rovers catapulted Bury up to 12th-place in the League Two table, 10 points clear of the drop zone with six games to play.
Pressing concerns now will be to choose which players to move forward with into the club’s 130th anniversary season, when chairman Stewart Day has already stated he expects them to be pushing for promotion.
Many of the current squad will be out of contract in the summer, including experienced players like goalkeeper Brian Jensen, defender Pablo Mills and striker Clive Platt.
Flitcroft will also have to decide whether to make a move for any of his loan players, with Sheffield Wednesday winger Danny Mayor, Everton striker Hallam Hope and full-back Chris Hussey all possible targets, either on a season-long loan or permanent deals.
But the Bury boss has also made it clear he is keen to promote from within, maybe not this summer but definitely in the future.
“The synergy between the first team and the youth team is probably somewhere this club didn’t really have a plan before I came,” he said.
“We are giving Navid a bit of a trial with the first team, and over the next four to six weeks he will train with us every day, but the rest of the lads have been released.
“I won’t let the first years remaining in the academy down in the same way though. I will make sure we have a plan for them to get pro contracts for next season.”