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  • Harvey Steel

Why the stand in substitution rule should be kept around

Football is back, but with a different look. The absence of the crowd has of course changed the way in which we view matches and the water breaks in the middle of each half have given the game a slight NBA feel to it. Despite the frantic NBA action not quite being replicated in every game, there is an aspect of the new look that could benefit the English game.

We have fantastic academy’s up and down the country from the likes of Crewe and Exeter in League Two to Chelsea and Southampton in the Premier League, but these aren’t the only clubs breeding the next English stars. Since the restart of the Premier League, five players under the age of 21 have made their professional debuts. As well as debuts, players like Will Smallbone, Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have been given more significant roles for their clubs. Not only have we seen debuts and younger players taking on more responsibility we’ve seen players like Harvey Elliot, Tommy Doyle and other young stars take up their position on the first team bench, a trend I believe will continue.

As fans we have all had to become familiar with the new rule change, allowing managers to name nine players on their bench and make five substitutions throughout the course of the game. This rule has been bought in to help players with their fitness levels and to reduce the chances of injury after such a long lockdown lay off. However, to many this has made games frustrating to watch and to a certain point I agree, but if this stand-in rule stays, I am confident we will see more talent breakthrough across the English leagues.

The England national side’s ‘Golden Generation’ is over. The class of 92’, Lampard, Gerrard and many other of that generation are no longer playing and that leaves us with the question; who is next to follow in their footsteps. The introduction of Gareth Southgate to the national side has created a new buzz and over the last few seasons we’ve seen the likes of Jadon Sancho, Trent Alexander Arnold and Marcus Rashford all break onto the scene and make a major contribution for their clubs and more recently the national side. But for football to come home we need to be producing the best talents we can and where better for them to play their football than the Premier League.

It is obvious that managers loyalties lie deservedly, with their experienced players who have earnt their trust. Therefore, it is no shock managers will mostly always choose an experienced player over youth, especially when it comes to matchday squads. However, if we were to keep this rule in place it would allow managers to expose more young players to the first team environment, while still including experienced players in matchday squads. As a young player myself I understand how crucial it is for young players to get good amounts of playing time in order to develop. However, it is also vital that players are exposed to a first team environment, so if or when they step up to the first team they are not thrown in at the deep end. With the support staff players have around them they can be advised and guided into what is best for them, this may mean on Saturdays you see less youngsters named on the bench so that they can play in academy fixtures and make sure their footballing ability is improving instead of wasting away on the bench. Although, midweek cup or league games could see a perfect opportunity for players to gain that exposure and with the hectic Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday routine it could be perfect to give them players a run out.

You could argue enough players are breaking through our academy systems and it could be argued that seven substitutes are more than enough, and that there is no reason to increase the number. However, this rule will give managers the choice. If they do not feel there are sufficient young players to fill them one or two extra spaces, then of course they could decide against it and choose the previous number of seven, but I believe this could give clubs a way of exposing players correctly.

The implications of this rule being kept could be huge for breeding English talent up and down the leagues, making sure they are introduced at the right time and in the right way. After all this rule will only benefit the national side, brining football closer to coming home.

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