"I’d like to do what Paul McGuinness and Warren Joyce do, get involved and try and progress the young lads and get them through."

- Alan Smith

22/08/2013 08:32, Report by Adam Marshall
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Exclusive interview: Alan Smith

You took charge of the MK Dons Reserves last season. Is that something you want to do full-time?
I’m going to do that coaching again this year. We can’t get in the Under-21 Premier League obviously so we’ve got a big void between lads playing in the Under-18s and making the step up to the first team from the youth team. There is a big void in the middle and we were busy trying to create  friendlies with bigger teams so we can play in stadiums and have actual games for the lads in between.

Is it becoming difficult to give them the games they need as the club has some talented players?
There’s no competitive football for them so it’s a little bit difficult and we’ve got so many good lads that it’s difficult to keep hold of them. We have youngsters that play with England who can potentially leave to go to a team in the Under-21 Premier League and see it as a massive stepping stone. So it’s difficult for us to give them what they need.

How are you handling the situation?
We have got one game against Tottenham in pre-season and then we’re going to try and get 10 games during the season in an attempt to develop them. There is training but it’s difficult to bridge that gap between the youth team and the first team as it’s not as competitive. The Intermediate League used to be like a first-team game as you knew that, if you played well, you had a chance of playing on a Saturday. But it’s a million miles away from the Under-21 league and I think motivation must be a factor as much as anything. If you go out and have something to prove and do well, you had a chance of playing on a Saturday but I don’t think that is the case anymore.

With so much debate about youth football in this country and St George's Park starting up, you have first-hand experience of this kind of

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