Barnsley U18s coach Tom Harban says preparation for next season is well underway at the academy.
The Oakwell youth set-up has been quite stretched this campaign, with players from younger age categories frequently playing at an older age group.
“It’s giving the young boys from the under 16s opportunities to come and play,” said Harban.
“We’ve been really pleased with how they’ve adapted to under 18s football in the last few weeks, performances have been really good - they’ve created a lot of chances. But, then again, like most of the season they probably just need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.
“For the under 18s to be playing at under 23s level, it tells us that we think quite highly of them, and it’s a challenge for them to go and play against more physical, powerful boys.
“As an under 23s group we’re quite young compared to other clubs, so it’s a tough task for them. But the feedback we’ve had is that they’ve done well, which is pleasing.”
One player who has made the step up to Martin Devaney’s U18 squad is 15-year-old Aiden Marsh, who has impressed at U16 level.
The young striker has a keen eye for goal, and Harban believes he has the quality to develop at an older age group.
“Aiden has been doing really well with the under 15s and under 16s - scoring lots of goals - so it was an opportunity for him to come and get involved with the under 18s,” continued the coach. “He’s deserved an opportunity with us.
“Physically, he might have struggled a little bit, but we know he’s got ability and we know he scores a lot of goals.
“In terms of the way we want to play now and create chances, it’s a chance for him to come in with the under 18s and get some goals.
“I think we try to be easy on the eye when we’re on the ball, I think we’ve come away from the defensive side of it since the change of management.
“A lot of the focus is on the ball, rotation of players and just being creative in the final third, which has been slightly different to the first half of the season.”
With the current campaign set to draw to a close in a few weeks, the coaching staff will soon formulate ideas as to who will be in the squad for the 2018/19 season.
That will mean an fresh intake of players from younger age categories and any potential trialists who may have impressed during their time with the Reds.
“This year’s first years will be with us, they’ve done quite well and played a lot of football compared to recent years,” confirmed Harban. “There’s still spaces to be filled as well, so we’re looking at players all the time but we want to bring in the right players for this Club.
“We’ll finish off the season in the next couple of weeks, evaluate as a staff - myself, Martin Devaney, Bobby Hassell, Greg Miller - on how this season has gone. It’s mine and Martin’s first season working together, so we’ll plan for next season.
“It’s pre-season from 2 July, we’ll have new boys coming in and we’ll have a real good go at developing the players - which is the main focus - and really driving a winning mentality within the group as well.”