Kean sees bright future

Rovers boss salutes success of Ewood Park youngsters

Steve Kean: Excited by the success of Blackburn's academy system

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Steve Kean believes Blackburn's academy system is among the best in the country and hopes to benefit from the club's ongoing success at youth level.

Rovers' senior side may have struggled this season, with their Premier League status far from assured, but their U18s have flourished and are readying themselves for an FA Youth Cup final appearance against either Manchester United or Chelsea.

Kean is delighted to see the club's hard work away from the first-team spotlight paying off and is confident a steady stream of youngsters will filter their way into his plans over the coming years.

He said: "It's been a great week and I think that's going to be a thread that runs right through our club, the number of young players we can get in our team.

"To show now that we can get to the Youth Cup final, we've got a number of academy players already in the team, and it's very good for us that we can continue pushing the young guys through.

"If you look back over the years, if you can get to the Youth Cup final and manage to win it, there's normally three or four of those players that go on to have a good career."

Among the current academy crop is Adam Henley, a 17-year-old full-back who has already made seven first-team appearances this season and caught the eye in a young Blackburn side that stunned Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford on New Year's Eve.

Improve

"The young ones we've got from academy level right through into the first team are probably as good as anywhere in the country."

Steve Kean

Quotes of the week

Ahead of Monday's return date with the Red Devils, Kean said: "When we played Manchester United before I think we had an average age of 22, one of the youngest in the Premier League, so I think the future for us is very bright.

"But we need to make sure we maintain our status, that's the first target, and then strengthen and make sure we can improve.

"But the young ones we've got from academy level right through into the first team are probably as good as anywhere in the country."

While pleased to see the stars of tomorrow developing nicely, Kean acknowledges that it is important to have the right mix of youth and experience in a competitive side.

"We need to make sure there's a balance between the young players getting into the team and the experience that we have, because we've lost so much experience," he said after seeing the likes of Chris Samba, Ryan Nelsen and Jason Roberts depart the club.

"We've lost over 1,500 Premier League games with the four or five lads who have left the club so we know we need to have experience, then we have to combine that with youth."