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Norwich City A-Z: U is for under-23s, as increased academy focus paves the way for next generation

Anthony Spyrou and Adam Idah, right, have both signed pro terms with City 
Picture: Nick Butcher

Anthony Spyrou and Adam Idah, right, have both signed pro terms with City Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

The academy treadmill never stops turning at professional football clubs – but at least the youngsters at Norwich City will soon be getting shiny new running machines.

Alfie Payne earned a pro deal after captaining the Canaries' U18s last season Picture: Nick ButcherAlfie Payne earned a pro deal after captaining the Canaries' U18s last season Picture: Nick Butcher

City’s intention to maintain their category one status brought the academy into sharp focus earlier this year, when an innovative bond scheme successfully raised £5million for new facilities at Colney.

While the work to replace temporary structures with permanent buildings including offices, dressing rooms and modern gym facilities is still in its early stages, the focus on the academy was reenforced last week.

That came when majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones joined sporting director Stuart Webber and academy manager Steve Weaver in welcoming a new intake of Canaries hopefuls.

Professional contracts were celebrated for strikers Adam Idah and Anthony Spyro, midfielders Alfie Payne and Atli Barkarson and defender Louis Lomas, all of whom played key roles in the U18s reaching the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals last season, with nine first-year scholars welcomed to David Wright’s squad.

The five with pro deals are set to be more involved with Matt Gill’s U23 squad, which will again be heavily affected by loan exits, having finished seventh in Division Two of Premier League Two last season – two points adrift of a play-off place.

Icelandic midfielder Atli Barkarson
 has signed his first professional deal with City Picture: Sonya DuncanIcelandic midfielder Atli Barkarson has signed his first professional deal with City Picture: Sonya Duncan

Among the players released from the U23s were defenders Louis Ramsay and Michee Efete, as well as midfielder Ebou Adams, who all spent most of last season on loan in the National League.

This season’s loan exits have already begun, with strikers Tristan Abrahams and Mason Bloomfield heading to Exeter and Hamilton respectively, Savvas Mourgos in Holland with Dordrecht and Diallang Jaiyesimi going back to League Two, this time with Yeovil.

MORE: Exeter sign Canaries striker Abrahams on loan

Abrahams was top scorer last year with nine goals in 27 games, ahead of Todd Cantwell with six in 18 – who looks likely to head out on loan again – leaving room for the next generation to emerge.

There are new faces as well, with midfielders Saul Milovanovic and Tom Scully joining after leaving Huddersfield and Everton respectively, as well as defenders Ciaren Jones and Caleb Richards after respective exits from Luton and Blackpool.

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