Derby County’s Under-18s will get their 2021/22 season started this weekend.
Adam Robinson’s side will begin their Under-18 Premier League - North season with a trip north to face Middlesbrough on Saturday (12:30pm kick-off).
The Under-18s’ pre-season campaign saw them record a 3-3 draw against Burton Albion, as well as 1-0 and 4-2 wins over Crewe Alexandra and Norwich City.
In addition, members of the Under-18s squad featured for the Under-23s in their friendly matches against local non-league sides Matlock Town and Alfreton Town.
Derby’s Under-18s finished the 2020/21 season in seventh place in Premier League – North.
They picked up ten wins, three draws and eleven defeats from their 24 matches.
The side flew out of the taps last term with three wins from three, before hitting a tricky run of form.
However, they bounced back well and recorded some impressive results and notably registered a 3-1 victory at Manchester United in February.
New Look Squad
Derby County’s Academy welcomed in eleven new first-year Scholars in July.
Adding to the attacking ranks for the new season are Callum Moore, Reece Nicholas-Davies and Zion Dixon.
Striker Dixon has been at the club for three years, having previously spent time in Crystal Palace’s Academy, while Nicholas-Davies signed in the summer after his time at Fulham came to an end. Moore made five appearances for the Under-18s last season, having been with the Rams since Under-10s.
Dubum Eze, Adebayo Fapetu, Darren Robinson and Sam Sebagabo will bolster the Under-18s’ midfield options.
After a successful trial period last season, following his departure from Chelsea’s Academy, attacking midfielder Eze put pen to paper with the Rams, while Fapetu has joined from Arsenal. Robinson has arrived from Northern Ireland, having made his senior debut for Dungannon Swifts earlier this year.
Central midfielder Sebagabo is another to have come through the ranks in the Rams’ Academy, as have defensive trio Moloney, Aideyan and Ryan. All three have already made their Under-18s debuts in the last year, with Maloney scoring once and providing one assist.
Goalkeeper Evans has been in the Rams’ Academy since he was six years old and will join second-year shot-stoppers Alfie Roberts and Harvey Randle in the squad.
In addition, another new scholar joined the club this month in the form of former Chelsea defender Carlos Richards to take the number of new faces in the squad to 12.
Derby have nine second-year scholars in Robinson’s squad in the form of Marko Borkovic, Rhys Brailsford, Eli Christie, Olamide Ibrahim, Cian Kelly Caprani, Harvey Randle, Alfie Roberts, Charlie Rutt, Dylan Williams.
The squad has a fresh feel with eleven players coming to the end of their scholarships in the summer, which the club confirmed in June.
Ozasee Aghatise, Max Bardell, William Grewal-Pollard, Andres Perez De Gracia, Harrison Solomon, Seb Thompson, Bartosz Cybulski and Alex Matthews have all stepped up to the Under-23s squad. Hugo Jinkinson and Jack Rogers have also moved on to pastures new, as has Chelsea loanee Malik Mothersille.
Under-18 Premier League Format
The Under-18 Premier League replaced the Premier Academy League at the start of the 2012/13 season with the aim to enhance youth development and help transition players between the Academy and first team.
The 28-team league is split into North and South Groups, and the two regional division champions will play in a national final for the U18 Premier League title. The one-off tie will be held at a main stadium.
The 2021/22 U18 Premier League will take place under the following criteria:
* In total, 28 clubs compete, with each of the clubs having applied for Category One status. There are 18 clubs from the Premier League, nine from the Championship and one from League One.
* The 28 clubs are split into two regional groups, the North Group and the South Group.
* Clubs will play each opposing team in their regional group twice, home and away.
* For the overall title, the North Group and South Group winners will play in a one-off national final at a main stadium.
* Clubs are not allowed to field any outfield players outside the Under-18 age category. However, the goalkeeper is permitted to come from the Under-19 age category.
Past Under-18 Premier League Winners
2020/21: Manchester City
2018/19: Derby County
2015/16: Manchester City
* National final did not finish due to curtailment of season