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Exclusive: Woking boss Dowson slams standard of Premier League academies

Woking FC manager Alan Dowson has slammed the standards within Premier League academy football.

The former Millwall defender sat down with Tribal Football in an exclusive interview and said that academy football fails to prepare young players for the challenges of senior football.

Dowson has taken on a series of young players as manager of Woking and argued that youngsters at Premier League clubs would be better served in non-league football as they look to build experience.

"I could play in academies to be honest," he told Tribal Football.

"I watched six games in the last two weeks and it is completely hopeless – pointless exercise. When I was at Millwall we had the first team and combination and if you didn't get in the first team you played combination, which was proper men against men."

Many youth prospects that have spent time in Premier League academies end up playing in the lower leagues for much of their career and Dowson said that his Woking side regularly beat the under-23 teams of top level clubs.

"Academies are the worst thing about football," he added.

"I would advise under-23s to come down here because we beat them all. We beat Chelsea last year and just drew 0-0 with QPR. I think we are better than them to be honest. Of course you want youth to come but let them clean their boots again, let them show respect to the club.

"We haven't got the time to take on kids, they need to be men when they arrive. If they are 18 they need to be able to come in and get in our first team and be a man. We have had a few young players from Nottingham Forest and Oxford United come in and do very well for us. The under-23 results mean nothing but when they come here results mean everything."

Woking are currently ninth in the National League table and sit just three points adrift of the playoffs.

Despite being part-timers, the club are still looking to achieve promotion this season and with Luton Town's Josh Neufville and Crawley Town's Ibrahim Meite on loan, Dowson has been true to his word about offering academy prospects playing time.

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William Dodds

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