WOKING’S academy is still busy, despite football now enjoying its close season.

Scott Harrison, the academy boss, told the News & Mail: “We don’t stop. 

“As a staff, we’re planning pre-season, the fixtures and the training programmes for the squad for when they return on 28 June. 

“And we’re sitting down and reviewing what we’ve done and what we can do better.”

In 2022-23, the academy’s under-18s finished runners-up to Kingstonian in the Pitching In Isthmian Youth League Central section and won the Isthmian Youth League Cup.

The under-19s finished seventh in the National League Under-19 Alliance South Division and lost narrowly to York City in the National League Academy Cup final.

Harrison said: “We want to get to the National League Academy Cup final again. 

“We made it to the semi-final last year and got to the final this year – but can we get to the final next season and win it? 

“We set ourselves challenges all the time. We as an academy and a staff don’t want to sit still. We can’t sit still – we have to keep competing.” 

Asked if there are any academy players pushing for a first-team opportunity next term, Harrison said: “It’s a hard one for me to say yes or no to.

“We’ve got good players within the academy. But from my point of view, since [first-team manager] Darren Sarll came into the club, the whole philosophy, attitude and professionalism have changed. And that’s raised the bar and made it harder to get younger players in the first team.

“So credit to what Darren’s done, and look where the club finished in 2022-23 [fourth in the National League]. 

“As an academy, we’ve got to try to compete with that now and keep up to speed to find players ready to make the step up. 

“I had a conversation with Darren the other day [about emerging talent], and it’s hard [for young players]. 

“He said it’s hard. And we’re not the only level it’s hard for. It’s the same for a Premier League academy too.

“But there’s nothing better than seeing a boy go in the first-team squad, get a squad number and maybe get some minutes.”

For the full interview, see the 1 June issue of the News & Mail.