The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

NO PLAYER sums up the fail­ings of Premier League acad­e­mies like Jonathan Obika.

The striker joined Swin­don Town on dead­line day after six years at Spurs. While at White Hart Lane, he made 11 loan moves yet did not play a sin­gle game in the Premier League. And on Fri­day, he will be 24. What a waste.

At 23, Kieran Trip­pier has al­ready fin­ished sec­ond in the Cham­pi­onship and played top-flight foot­ball with Burn­ley. Team-mate Ben Mee can say the same at 24.

At 22, Adam For­shaw – Wi­gan’s new £4m sign­ing from Brent­ford – al­ready has a pro­mo­tion from League One and a cen­tury of Foot­ball League starts on his CV.

All three started out at Premier League clubs, Mee and Trip­pier with Man City, For­shaw with Ever­ton. All three left early when it was ob­vi­ous that first­team foot­ball was a pipe dr eam.

Now they have medals, ex­pe­ri­ence and reputations that will set them up for a long car eer in the game. At the same age, Obika still has ev­ery­thing to prove.

Spurs have piles of young kids – Tom Car­roll, Adam Smith, Alex Pritchard, Ryan Fred­er­icks, to name a tiny few. All of them are out on loan to ‘gain ex­pe­ri­ence’.

But will that ex­pe­ri­ence lead to a place in the first team? Not with a hun­dred mil­lion quid’s worth of in­ter­na­tion­als and a Cham­pi­ons League dream block­ing their way. It’s the same at any Premier League club.

Of course, loans are bet­ter than rot­ting in the no con­tact world of re­serve team foot­ball.

But a month here and hand­ful of games there is noth­ing com­pared to the feel­ing of be­ing in­te­gral to a side, of forg­ing a path with­out the sub­con­scious safety net of a par­ent club. Of hav­ing a staff mo­ti­vated to invest in your im­prove­ment. It’s tough to let go of the dream. At 21-22, I’m not sure I’d have been able to. But the ev­i­dence sug­gests that it’s bet­ter to be a Trip­pier than an Obika.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

ACADEMY KID: Jonathan Obika

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