Young Brentford goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe has said that he and his teammates have benefitted from a clearer path to the first team thanks to the introduction of the ‘B’ team.
Balcombe, 17, is already on fringes of first team after impressing for both the youth and B teams this season.
The likes of Tom Field, Chris Mepham and Reece Cole have already made their first team bows this season, and Balcombe says that he’s working as hard as he can in order to join them.
He said: “Being in and around the first team is great. It lets you know that there’s a pathway and seeing the likes of Chris [Mepham], Tom [Field] and Recce [Cole] make their debuts just motivates you to get there.
“Working alongside a goalkeeper like Dan Bentley is very beneficial too.
“He’s a top quality goalkeeper and he’s always pushing both myself and himself to be better.
“I love his honesty as well. That’s the only way that I’m going to improve.”
Brentford closed their academy at the end of last season, option instead to have an U23 ‘B’ team that will play a number of friendlies and have closer contact with the first team.
According to an article on the Brentford website, the setup has allowed them to have more control over various different elements such as the style of play and the culture within the club.
This season, they have already beaten the likes of Manchester United this season, and have also come toe to toe with Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
“It’s been great this season,” Balcombe said.
“We’ve played against so many high quality teams this season and the games have been really good quality too.
“They’ve been good tests but we’ve dealt with them well and we’re better players for it.”
Balcombe’s performances in between the sticks has seen him called up for the England U18 side for their Middle Eastern friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Speaking on the call up, Balcombe said: “It’s always an honour to play get called up for your country. It’s always nice to get noticed.
“It’s very important to visit different countries in the world and play against different styles and in different climates.
“Three games in six days will be a test but we have a squad more than capable of dealing with it.
“It helps with the fact that the squad is so talented. It helps test you as a goalkeeper to be around so many good players.”
“The coach, Neil Dewsnip is great, too. He’s very supportive and understands the needs of the players.
“I like how he tells it as it is. If the quality is good he’ll tell you but if it’s not he’ll always let you know and I think you need that.”
England U18s played their first friendly against Saudi Arabia this afternoon, winning the game 2-0.