Former Luton Town defender Matthew Upson has praised the club for continuing their conveyor belt of talent, especially during the dark days of the Conference.
Upson was one of a number of Premier League players who started their careers with Luton, as he came through the academy, playing once for the first team, before bring snapped up by Arsenal for £2m back in 1997.
They’ve always had a good youth policy and always produce good players, so it’s such a positive thing for a club like Luton.Matthew Upson
Since boss Nathan Jones took over, 11 graduates have been handed their first team debuts, including Arthur Read, who recently penned his first pro contract with the club.
On Hatters’ superb and consistent record of promoting youth, with the likes of Curtis Davies, Matthew Taylor, Leon Barnett and Cauley Woodrow to name just four, all earning big moves away from Kenilworth Road, he said: “It always has and I think it’s led the way a lot in the youth development for a lot of years, for being the size of the club that it is.
“You can look at a list of the players that have come through this club, it’s a great achievement and I don’t think their academy has ever stopped churning them out, even through the tough times and the Conferences times and the problems the clubs had.
“They’ve always had a good youth policy and always produce good players, so it’s such a positive thing for a club like Luton.”
Despite their insistence on bringing players though, Luton were fined £15,000 for doing so in the Checkatrade Trophy during the group stages as it went against the rules set out by the competition,
Upson continued: “It’s the regulations and it’s to try and get the Premier League U23 teams experience in the senior mens game, that’s what the clubs structured for.
“Luton used it for something different to their advantage and to their benefit, but it’s out of the regulations.
“So I just think that’s just a technical fine, and young players and other people got good experience, so for the club it’s been a positive tournament for them bar the fine.”
Meanwhile, it’s not just the youth brought through at Luton that Upson, who attended training recently, was pleased to see being given their opportunity in League Two this term, with the defender seeing both Christian Walton and Glen Rea as teenagers when at Brighton.
He added: “The interesting thing is you remember them from being young players and coming into train.
“I remember Christian (Walton) being in goal and even then you start to see they’ve grown up, got a bit more stature, carry themselves different.
“They’re gaining in confidence, physically their body changes and they look more like men than 17-year-old boys.
“So it’s interesting to see that development and they look more like they’re accomplished players ready to step into the team.
“Olly Lee used to come and train with us sometimes when he was a young lad at West Ham.
“They’ve always shown that potential, so from a development point of view, it’s nice to see what that looks like at 17 before you then see it later on and it’s more development.
“So from a coaching point of view it’s nice to identify that.”