After impressing with three goals in pre-season, Divin Mubama will be hoping he gets a chance in the first team this season. But he, as well as a lot of other Academy players, will also know there’s a chance their FA Youth Cup success last season will have put them on the radar of other clubs and they may get loaned out for this campaign. Some may attract bids for a permanent transfer.
With transfer rumours surrounding Antonio’s departure and the tentative fitness issues in both Danny Ings and Gianluca Scamacca, Mubama must be hungrily awaiting a chance to make a name for himself. He scored 16 goals in 24 appearances in the Academy last season and won the Mark Noble Young Player of the Year award on top of helping the U18s to FA Youth Cup victory.
But under the conservative leadership of David Moyes, where the starting XI is left untouched seemingly at all costs, can he break through? Moyes is known for trusting solely in a few players and a singular starting XI to the point where the weekly performances of each player doesn’t affect their standing in the line-up.
Would our £105m golden boy, Declan Rice, have been given a chance in a David Moyes first team had Bilic not done so before Moyes arrived? Along with Mubama, I’m also interested to see what happens this season with slightly older youngsters in Conor Coventry and Flynn Downes whose futures remain unclear.
Though hailed as a quality defensive midfielder by Mark Warburton and the fans at Swansea, Downes is still only nipping at the first team even in Europe, with questionable comments about him in interviews from Moyes. He looks every bit the West Ham player to me, and can only improve with actual game time. And now that Moyes is looking for ‘proven’ Premier League midfielders in James Ward-Prowse and Scott McTominay, it is unlikely Downes will see much action.
It’s further unlikely that Conor Coventry will finally crack through to the first team, with Downes ahead of him, and we might soon see him in other colours much like Josh Cullen, who now plays for recently promoted Burnley. It’s my hope that Mark Noble, in his new position as Sporting Director, will have some influence on getting young players across the line.
After all, with another European campaign ahead, we’ll need as many bodies as we can get to freshen the squad. Hopefully Moyes will start to open his mind and youth like Mubama can get a chance.