Blackburn Rovers manager Paul Ince has pulled off a major coup by winning the race for young starlet Jason Banton, who has cut ties with Arsenal to join the youth set-up at Ewood Park.
Reports yesterday suggested that 15-year-old Banton had fallen out with the Gunners and Ince has moved quickly to offer the England Youth International a stage to hone his talents away from the Emirates Stadium. With Manchester City also reportedly interested in the young striker.
Blackburn’s managing director Tom Finn has claimed that Banton’s decision to leave Arsenal for Rovers and not North West rivals City is an indication of the clubs willingness to give young players a chance in the Premier League.
This season has already the seen Blackburn give Swedish defender Martin Olsson and Irish youngster Keith Treacy given opportunities in the Premiership after coming through the youth system. While striker Matt Derbyshire made the breakthrough at Ewood Park in 2007.
“Jason has signed with us and we are delighted to have him here,” said Finn.
“He’s a young England international, playing a year above his own age group.
“Obviously, it has been good to see some of our young players develop at the Academy and make it through to the first-team.
“That has happened over the last few years. We’ve seen Matt Derbyshire come through, and this season, Keith Treacy and Martin Olsson have been given opportunities at first-team level.
“These are players that have come through our system and been recognised by the first-team manager. It’s good to see them getting that opportunity.”
Finn went on to reveal that he believed more youngsters will choose Rovers if they can see a better chance of making it to the Premier League through the youth set-up at Blackburn. With Ince prepared to give youth his chance in his first season as a Premiership manager.
“There’s no doubt that, here at Blackburn, there is a route through to the first-team from the Academy,” said Finn.
“That can only help us reach out to promising young players.
“If they can see that the manager is prepared to put his faith in young players - because they are good enough - then it helps enormously.”