Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft has praised the EFL for introducing a new ruling, meaning clubs must name one club-developed player within their match-day squad during every game of the 2018-19 campaign.
The Stags kicked off their new season with a 3-0 win over Newport County on Saturday and named striker Jordan Graham and defender Lewis Gibbens on the bench, with Graham making his debut – when he replaced Craig Davies late on in the second half.
Flitcroft, who has been a big advocate of blooding young players since his arrival in March, told iFollow “Developing players is key, young players give you an energy, they give you an honesty. It’s a new initiative that the EFL have brought in – Lewis Gibbens was our club developed player.
“We’re a young academy. I didn’t want to put a player on that probably didn’t deserve to be put on, to just tick a box or get the paperwork right. So we fought really hard to get Lewis [ready].
“He’s done something like twenty-four-thousand hours with the football club and with our coaches. It’s a brilliant initative and if you look at the England team and the way they performed [At the World Cup] a lot of that team has come from the EFL.
“I think sometimes in the world of Football and Global Football, there is too much emphasis on the Premier League – there’s over 72 league clubs that underpin that and our EFL is superstrong. Probably 90% of that infrastructure of the England squad has spent time in there and has come from there.
“I’m delighted that Jordan [Graham] has had some game time – would I be worried about putting Lewis Gibbens on? No chance, I’d put him on at the drop of a hat – no problem”
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