Championship is perfect platform for Fulham's youth development

Felix Magath - Fulham Manager

Despite relegation from the Premier League, there is hope for Fulham’s future, as their youth team demonstrated this week.

Most people have been engrossed in the truly pulsating end to the Premier League season, but there was a recent match that demanded as much attention for the excitement and the quality it displayed.

The Fulham and the Chelsea Under-18 sides managed to produce eight goals between them in the second leg of their FA Cup Youth Cup final tie at Stamford Bridge, bringing the total for the two-legged affair to 13.

Perhaps this suggests that the two sides’ defensive lines leave much to be desired, but this does a huge disservice to the attacking prowess of both the youth teams.

Although Fulham lost, there is more than a crumb of comfort for the supporters of a club who have had such a dire season; in particular, the forward partnership of Moussa Dembele and Patrick Roberts.

These two produced numerous moments of such quality that it seems staggering they have barely had a look-in for the senior team. Dembele has made only a single start this season, and on the basis of the performances in the final, he deserves more. His movement was sharp, and his strength in the air was highlighted by his two headed goals.

This perfectly complemented the pace and brilliant footwork of Roberts, whose beautiful run resulted in a penalty at Craven Cottage. He fully deserved his goal in the second leg – a deliciously powerful volley across the goalkeeper and into the top corner. Fulham manager Felix Magath clearly rates him, giving the young Englishman two substitute appearances for the senior side and describing his as an “extraordinary talent”.

This attacking partnership is just the start of Fulham’s bright prospects hidden in the youth team, and the Championship could well provide the perfect level to introduce these players to senior football. It can only benefit Fulham, and – just whisper it – perhaps England.

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