Academy Players

Running from 18-24 March, the EFL’s Youth Development Week launches today with latest figures showing  that EFL Academy-developed players have made over 3,000 appearances across the Championship,  League One and League Two so far this season. 

From producing players for their own first team, providing opportunities for the best young talent from the  Premier League, to helping England and their age group sides to prosper, the latest statistics highlight the  crucial role being played by EFL Clubs in creating the next generation of players. 

In total those players have made 3,396 appearances, enjoying a total of 213,021 minutes on the pitch. EFL  Clubs have also continued to give valuable playing time to young players from Premier League sides, with  200 players having enjoyed a loan spell in the EFL, making 2,278 appearances so far this season. 

Many EFL players will now be on international duty with 147 EFL players aged 21 or younger having 
represented their country at senior or age group level in the 2023/24 campaign, showing how valuable EFL clubs and competitions are to youth development. 

Of the full England squad named by Gareth Southgate for upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Belgium  the players had made 1,815 appearances in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two  between them. Twelve players were developed by an academy of a current EFL team, while 17 players made  their debuts in EFL competitions.

These results build on 2022/23 which saw EFL Clubs hand debuts to 161 players across the three divisions,  with Academy developed players making over 5,000 appearances across the three divisions. 

Further key stats highlighting the EFL’s importance to developing home-grown talent include: 

• In the Championship, Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City have led the way with almost 30% of their  player minutes coming from Academy graduates
• 40% of Shaun Maloney’s Wigan Athletic team have been made up of Academy graduates who have  enjoyed over 13,000 minutes of playing time in League One 
• In League Two, Crewe Alexandra’s promotion push has been driven by young talent with over 20 
home grown players representing the club this season 
• The EFL will have at least one Club in the 2023/24 FA Youth Cup Final with Millwall set to take on 
Leeds United in the semi-finals while Bristol City face Manchester City. 
• In Cup competitions in 2022/23, 74 players made their professional debut in the Bristol Street Motors  Trophy, while 26 players were handed their first professional appearances in the Carabao Cup 

EFL Chief Executive Officer, Trevor Birch, said:  “With many top players having started their careers at EFL Clubs and Academies, the EFL is vital to the  football pyramid. Developing home grown players not only remains core to the funding model of our Clubs, but fans love  nothing more than watching young players compete for their Club reinforcing strong bonds to the local community. 

“Whether they progress through the Academies or are emerging Premier League talent playing in our  competitions, the EFL’s continued value lies in providing these players with vital experience at a young age standing them in great stead for their future careers whether that be in the EFL, Premier League or outside the game.”

As well as developing young footballers capable of making it in the professional game the EFL works  alongside League Football Education (LFE) who operate the Scholarship programme and oversee all  education within EFL Clubs.  LFE, who were recently awarded Outstanding in their most recent OFSTED report, are responsible for  ensuring that the players receive an education that gives them options for their future whether that is in the  game or outside it. The programme has been considered a great success with GCSE attainment of the scholarship players above the national average. 

The EFL’s work in Youth Development is led by Head of Youth Development, Darren Wassall, who joined  the League in 2023, after 14 years as Academy Director at Derby County.  Wassall has created a number of new initiatives during his short time in the role, including the introduction of 
an Under 10 Futsal competition for Academy Clubs, and said the groundswell of English talent is largely  thanks to the 72 Member Clubs. 

Wassall, said: “The support the EFL and our Clubs provides the national teams in England is evident, from  the players now featuring regularly for Gareth Southgate’s senior international side to the success enjoyed  by the England’s age group categories. Of Lee Carsley’s side that won the European Under 21 Championships in 2023, 19 of the 23 had come  through an EFL academy, enjoyed a loan spell at an EFL Club or were currently playing for an EFL Club. 

“One of the EFL’s main strategic aims is to help create more additional playing opportunities for young homegrown players, and the commitment from EFL Clubs to invest substantially into their own Youth Development  remains key.” 

Throughout the remainder of the Youth Development Week, the League will celebrate the success stories of  young players throughout the leagues up and down the country and the Academies who are shaping the  next generation of English football. 

To find out more about EFL’s Youth Development, visit