The likes of Bayern Munich and Celtic have taken an interest in their youth work – and Jim Goodwin says it’s a credit to the academy at St Mirren.
16-year-old Dylan Reid has been tracked by Celtic and big clubs down south, while the youngster was also jetted off to Germany for a tour of Bayern Munich’s facilities prior to signing a new St Mirren deal until 2023. Jay Henderson made his first-team Buddies debut last weekend in the Scottish Cup match against Hamilton Accies.
Goodwin’s side are in a comfortable position in the Scottish Premiership, not worrying about relegation, and the Buddies boss hopes to give youngsters chances in the remaining five league matches after narrowly missing out on the top six.
He said: “We’ll continue to play our strongest XI. But it would be lovely to be in a position to give a few young lads an opportunity like we did with Jay Henderson last weekend against Hamilton. He became the third debutant from the academy this season which is a great achievement.
“We are in a really good position with regards to the academy and the players coming through. I was at the last couple of U18s matches and they beat Rangers 4-3 and 7-2 so the crop of players at U18s level is really exciting.
“People will be sick of me saying it but I want to be recognised as a young manager who gives young players opportunities. Jay deserved to be rewarded with his debut against Hamilton and there were four or five little instances of his quality.
“Hopefully between now and the end of the season we will be able to give Daniel Finlayson his debut too while giving Dylan Reid and Jay Henderson another couple of games before things to come to a halt.”
Reid’s name is one that gathered lots of attention as some clubs put contract offers in front of him. But despite the likes of Bayern making moves for him and Celtic showing interest, it was Goodwin who was left delighted when the teen viewed the bigger picture.
The St Mirren boss explained: “There was loads of clubs interested in him. Dylan went over to Germany to see Bayern’s facilities and as you can imagine, both he and his family were blown away by the infrastructure on offer. But this wasn’t a financial decision for Dylan.
“If it was coming down to finances then there was no point us being at the table. But we hoped to offer him what those teams couldn’t and that was training with the first-team on a daily basis. If and when he earns the right to, he plays first-team football.
“We hope that when Dylan comes to the end of his current contract at 18, he has at least 50 senior appearances under his belt. If he had went to one of the bigger teams, he would have been kicking about playing youth football. He wasn’t lured by the big contracts and we are delighted to have him.”
With this weekend’s Scottish Premiership match with Motherwell presenting a chance for St Mirren to be mathematically safe in the division, Goodwin knows its importance as Saints look to finish seventh.
Already though, there have been positive transfer talks ahead of next season: “We are working on that (contracts for next season). We don’t necessarily wait until we are guaranteed to be in the division.
“We are constantly trying to move the club forward with keeping players that are already here but also talking to players that we would like to bring to the club. I’m glad to say that a lot of the agents and players I’ve spoken to view St Mirren as a good step in their careers.
“They aren’t just here to fight relegation all season. We have missed out on the top six by two goals, we have reached the semi-final of the League Cup and we’re in the next round of the Scottish Cup. If we add five or six really good players in the summer, we can really concentrate on that top half.”
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