Ben Burgess column: What was the FA thinking?

Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess
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Somebody please explain the FA’s thinking with regards to the EFL Checkatrade Trophy.

I believe the idea is to give the young players at Premier League and Championship clubs some experience of ‘real’ football instead of the sheltered world of youth and reserve teams.

In reality they got to play against League 1 and League 2 teams who rested their best players anyway.

Another reason this has not been supported by many of the Premier League’s elite is that the games are on international week when most of their young stars will be with their respective countries’ U21 teams.

I really hope this allowance of a ‘B’ team for Premier League teams does not creep into lower league football.

There’s a reason that England has such fantastically supported lower leagues, and that is because the fans are passionate about their local teams. They care about the results.

Who would care if Manchester United B team won or lost?

The lower league is a serious breeding ground for future stars, in the last three years we’ve had Ricky Lambert, Jamie Vardy and now Michail Antonio graduate to the full England squad having progressed all the way up the football league ladder.

One of the few teams to have actually benefitted are Blackpool, who managed to put their dismal recent form behind them to gain a confidence boosting victory over Cheltenham.

The key ingredient was the introduction of Kyle Vassell after his absence through injury. Keep him fit and Gary Bowyer and his men have a much better chance of three points at Yeovil tomorrow. It’s been a fantastic week for two ex- Seasiders. First of all, Shaun Barker made his long awaited comeback after going through nearly four years of injury hell.

Having spent most of my career battling injury, I know how much mental strength it’s taken for Shaun to overcome countless operations and setbacks.

Along with coming back from injury he’s also had to contend with finding a new club after his release from Derby.

That club was Burton Albion, who are managed by his old Derby gaffer Nigel Clough. Clough realises what a great influence Shaun can be in the changing rooms and out on the pitch.

Lots of managers have players they sign repeatedly throughout their managerial careers because they can trust them implicitly.

Simon Grayson signed Keith Southern at Huddersfield for this reason just as Brendan Rogers is doing with his ex-players at Celtic.

Unfortunately, no manager made the same mistake twice by signing me!

Shaun’s move has started well enough with him making his debut in a 1-0 victory against Derby and I I’m sure everyone wishes him all the luck for the rest of the season.

The second player is Brett Ormerod. His testimonial game at AFC Fylde’s new stadium was fantastically supported by all the amazing Blackpool fans, and having spoken to Brett I know just how much this meant to him.

I also found it quite apt that in such turbulent times for Blackpool FC, when there is disharmony everywhere, it’s taken a true legend to unite all the fans in one place.

Having chatted to many fans who attended the brand new Mill Farm stadium, it was lovely to hear in their voices and see in their photos the enjoyment they had being back watching football with their families and cheering on Blackpool.

For so many supporters their routine of heading to Bloomfield Road with family and friends to support their local team through good times and bad has been taken away from them, through no fault of their own.

Oh how the current Blackpool team could still do with someone like super Brett, who showed that despite being about 50 years old, he still has that goalscoring knack with a hat-trick in the 5-5 draw with the AFC Fylde XI.