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Jolley on Development Squad Balancing Act

18 November 2014

Development Squad manager Michael Jolley speaks about the challenge of fielding mixed teams

Jolley is yet to name an unchanged starting line-up from game-to-game so far this season and made eight changes to the side that beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 for the 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday last week.

The Development Squad make the short trip to Bolton Wanderers this morning in an 11am kick-off, after successive victories.

And Jolley spoke about the challenges of finding consistency at Development Squad level.

He said: “The challenge at development level is to find continuity because almost every week we have a different line-up on a basis on who is available from the first team or the U18s.

“The team has to develop relationships with different players and deliver performances in that environment.

“Younger players who are playing with the senior boys have to play well regardless of who they are playing alongside.

“Ultimately there is a pecking order within any football club and our lads are trying to get into the senior group and challenge those senior players. That is the level they aspire to.

“We are doing as much as we can to get them to that level, but ultimately our main task is to get as many of our younger lads into the senior group.”

The difficulty of opposition also changes radically from week-to-week, with many teams fielding a whole host of senior players, as the Clarets did last week against Sheffield Wednesday, but Jolley stressed that the Development Squad players all know their role.

Jolley added: “We have had a few games recently where the opposition have been loaded with senior players in recent games and we have had just development players. The Sheffield Wednesday game was the reverse of that.

“It was nice to still get a good performance and a result off the back of that.”

“Somebody like Jason Gilchrist who normally plays 90 minutes every week had to drop to the bench today even though I thought he played terrifically at Nottingham Forest last week, but he completely understands the situation.”

“What was pleasing is that all of the senior lads approached and addressed the game in the right way as they always do. They were all professional and delivered a good performance.
“Ashley Barnes is one example, he scored the winner in a Premier League fixture against Hull City, and applied the same principles to the Development Squad game.”

And Jolley believes that having a close working relationship with the first-team staff and squad is of paramount importance.

“I’m around the first team staff all the time, I have a role on matchdays where I am speaking to the manager, so we’re always communicating.

“My role is to filter down information from the manager to my group so we can have that transition between first team and development squad.

“When we speak before the Development Squad games a lot of the messages the first team lads heard would be similar to the types of messages they would hear from the manager and having Tony Loughlan here obviously helps solidify that relationship.”

You can follow all the action in today's Development Squad fixture against Bolton Wanderers on Twitter using the #BFCDevSquad.

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