Brentford B has another name to add to its growing list of First Team appearance makers after Theo Archibald’s debut for The Bees away at Ipswich Town last month. The 19-year-old became the seventh player to turn out for The Bees in a competitive First Team fixture under Head Coach Dean Smith since the formation of the B Team in the summer of 2016. Others have made their mark at First Team level elsewhere as part of their development.
Defender Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, like Theo, made his bow this campaign after the young left back started both The Bees’ Carabao Cup victories over AFC Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers. That First Round victory over The Dons also featured a first professional goal for Justin Shaibu, who graduated from Kevin O’Connor’s squad to the First Team over the summer. Justin also played at QPR and provided the assist for Josh Clarke’s match-sealing fourth goal.
Four more young players also made their professional debuts last season. Reece Cole and Zain Westbrooke were involved in Sky Bet Championship action at Nottingham Forest and Fulham respectively while Jan Holldack started the EFL Cup tie against Exeter City in August. Chris Mepham made his debut in January’s 5-1 Emirates FA Cup win over Eastleigh at Griffin Park and has been in matchday squads this term.
Other Brentford B players are making progress towards a First Team debut at Brentford. England youth international goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe was on the substitute’s bench last term, as was Dominic Kurasik. Emmanuel Onariase was also named as a sub last season and has now moved on to Rotherham United after an undisclosed agreement was reached for his transfer last. Former B Team midfield player James Ferry has made his professional debut for Stevenage this season.
Rasmus Ankersen, Brentford FC Co-Director of Football, said: “When we made the switch to a B Team squad we made two promises to both our existing players as well as the new player we recruited. The first promise was to put together a games programme at the same level and possibly even more competitive than they would find at a category 1 academy. The second promise was to create a clear pathway to the first team. Even though we are still in the early stages of the B-team project I am very pleased to see that we have been successful delivering on both promises. We have created a very competitive games programme with games against some of the best teams in Europe, and we have already had seven B-team players getting their first team debut in just a little more than 12 months."
“Talent development is not about having a great group of young players training on a pitch next to the first team. It was about giving young players the chance to play in the first team. I can only credit the first team coaching staff for having the courage to give our B.-team players the chance to play. They very much live by the mantra that if you are good enough you are also old enough."
Robert Rowan, Brentford FC Head of Football Operations, added: “It’s fantastic to see seven players make their debuts just over a year since we moved to this model. I have said previously, and stand by the opinion, that until we create a succession of players that are First Team regulars, we won’t have been successful but it is promising to see how close both teams are collaborating to achieve the objectives we set at the start of the year.
“The calibre of player within the squad has improved significantly and that is evident by the performances and results achieved by the group this season. Brentford fans will have the chance to judge for themselves when we play QPR at Griffin Park on Tuesday and I know the players are looking forward to playing in front of a good crowd.”