Stoke City chief Tony Scholes is convinced about the quality coming through their academy ranks.
Andy Wilkinson, Andy Griffin, Carl Dickinson and Ryan Shotton are the only youth-team graduates to start matches since the Potters returned to the top flight in 2008.
But Scholes told The Sentinel: "We have been behind a number of clubs for a few years with the academy, for good reasons.
"When the Coates family bought the club back eight years ago the focus was on the first team, getting the team to the Premier League as quickly as possible and keeping it there.
"That required a huge amount of investment and work.
"But we always recognised the academy was behind the leading clubs.
"Three years ago we tried to redress that and invested heavily and we are now starting to see the results.
"They are not going to come through in terms of three or four players all of a sudden bursting into the first team, but if you look at the academy from age nine upwards we are starting to see very positive developments."
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