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307 And Counting

Helping Paul Fairclough identify players on a progressive pathway to league football.

There are many ways to judge success in football. Results are often the barometer used by fans to judge if a team has done well or if they have under-performed. Concepts like possession and xG have also entered the regular vernacular of fans to offer another interpretation of who did or did not perform to expectation.

But one thing that I am sure everyone can agree on is Paul Fairclough’s record with England C is nothing short of phenomenal when it comes to providing a platform to showcase talent ready to make the progressive steps into league football. 307 players have gone from representing England’s talent at non-league level to having careers at all levels of England’s league structure, including players like Aden Flint, Ethan Pinnock, Kieffer Moore, David Stockdale, Joe Lolley, George Boyd, Andre Gray and Jamal Lowe who went on to hit the heady heights of the Premier League.

Not that results don’t matter to Paul. They do. Our intensive involvement with England C came as a reaction to England’s heavy 4:0 defeat to Wales in 2022 – a result that gave Paul “sleepless nights” - and led to us helping widen the scouting network available to him and utilising data to ensure some of the deficiencies in that game were not replicated in 2023. Thankfully, England won the 2023 encounter 1:0 thanks to a goal from Ryan De Havilland, later bound for League One Peterborough, and ably supported by Sam Howes, Vince Harper, Jesse Debrah, Joe Nuthall and Emile Acquah who all made progressive moves into league football that summer.

We are equally proud of the 2024 cohort and, despite the result, feel that there is significant potential in the side to make similarly progressive moves this summer.

This was already evidenced in January’s transfer window where three of our key candidates for caps were picked up for fees, Josh Stokes moving to Bristol City before returning to Aldershot on loan, Josh Kelly moving to Wimbledon from Solihull and Ben Krauhaus’ move to Brentford and subsequent loan back to Bromley all making them ineligible for this season’s squad selection.

Like working with any client, it isn’t simply a case of randomly selecting players you ‘like’. There are contextual factors to consider, including the expectation to select one player per club and the knock-on effect this has on coverage of key positions, as well as technical, tactical and psychological aspects of performance that Paul Fairclough looks for in players representing their country.

His post-match comments made this abundantly clear, too. When asked about his reaction to England’s narrow defeat to Wales, he was adamant: “I will never compromise on my playing philosophy. We passed our way back into the game and deserved a little more than we got”.

One player that certainly demonstrated these credentials on the night was Reece Smith, playing on the left in an inverted role that allowed him to showcase his ability to combine great footwork with intelligent spatial awareness to find and exploit gaps in the Welsh defence, despite challenging conditions (and some robust challenges).

It also felt quite poignant that the momentum of the game shifted in England’s favour after second-half substitutions saw three players from the National League North and South take the field after standout seasons.

Worthing’s Ollie Pearce nearly stole the headlines with an instinctive last-minute turn and shot that justified his inclusion after lethal form in National League South, while Luke Jenkins looked assured playing at this level whether facing his own goal (a superb sliding challenge preventing a Welsh second) or progressing the ball upfield in search of an elusive equaliser. And even Wyll Stanway, despite seeing little of the ball on the night, was able to be rewarded for his eye-catching performances for Chester with a well-deserved England C cap that acts as another landmark on a career already full of fascinating twists and turns. 

Another standout performer on the night was Myles Kenlock, a player whose career has already seen him make 85 appearances across the Championship and League One and was awarded for his crucial role in the resurgence of Ebbsfleet in the latter half of this season’s National League campaign. His ability on the ball was crucial in trying to overcome an aggressive press by Wales that saw him distributing effectively from the back but also making confident carries into the middle third to open up spaces. A performance that was sure to attract attention from interested parties.

But the work does not stop there. We have already begun our preparations for the exciting encounter against Nepal in May and look forward to again playing a significant role in helping identify worthy talent to take the field and possibly make the next progressive steps in their career while we, celebrating only our 3rd anniversary as an organisation in May, continue to make ours in the game we love.


About Analysts Bar

“Finding inspiration in every kick of a ball"

Analysts Bar is a project originally created in 2021 by fellow Notts County supporters Colin Sisson and Richard Ogando who are both heavily involved in data-led football performance analysis and player talent ID.

They are joined by popular Non-League analysts Tom Williams and Joe Payne and it is hoped that between them they will provide additional insight into the world of football tactics, performance analysis and player scouting at lower league level and across the globe.

A common passion for the beautiful game ensures Analysts Bar solutions deliver on every level with a team that find inspiration in every kick of a ball.

Commercial enquiries are welcomed and the Analysts Bar team already boast a number of clubs, players and media outlets as clients, as well as The FA following work undertaken for England C squad selection for two years running.

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