Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray has warned the current youngsters in the first team squad that the next generation coming through are hungrier than ever to take their places.
Teenage midfielder Cain Smith was on the bench for last weekend’s FA Cup tie with Oldham Athletic and Murray said there were others ready to follow him and make the next breakthrough.
On Smith, he said: “He’s done brilliant so far. We spotted him in the trials over the summer.
“He was at West Brom as a kid so he has a good pedigree and a good background. He is only 16 with an unbelievable hunger to be a footballer.
“He is physically in good shape. He’s got a man’s body, so he is coming to training with us and not looked out of place.
“He is technically good. He gets around and doesn’t mind doing the horrible stuff, so he is another one on the chain of those we are bringing through.
“There’s a couple more that are doing well and they will get their opportunity.
“What it does to the young boys we have already got in the squad is give them a kick up the backside. If they are not improving daily they will lose their spot which is unfortunate but is the nature of the beast.”
Murray added: “With the new youth set-up this is the way we wanted it. Over the next three or four years we believe we can be successful with the first team and move forward and progress, and part of that progression is bringing these kids through.
“Eventually we want to have a large number of our own in the first team which will up standards for the kids already in there.
“As young lads they have to work and do that extra bit of strength and conditioning work as they are still developing. “But everything they want to take a short cut on they will get punished for as this new breed coming through are even hungrier.
“It puts people on their toes, but that’s a good thing and good for the older boys in the squad too as they know they can’t sit on their laurels.
“If they do want to rest and feel like they’ve achieved something, they will get their backside bit. Credit to the boys down at the academy, they are doing a great job and are in the top two of their league.”