"There are all sort of issues to resolve to make it as good as possible. We have to comply and make observations as we go along."

- Brian McClair,

Summary of Under-21 changes

15/08/2012 11:02, Report by Adam Marshall
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McClair handles changes

"There are now three over-aged players allowed plus a goalkeeper on the pitch at the same time. Statistically, the Reserves were largely an Under-21 side and have been for a number of years but, if you look at the make-up of the opponents we played last year, many of them had a lot of squad players in them. So, for us, as a learning process, it was very, very good.

"I'm not so sure there will be as many games like that. It's another issue but when there are other people involved in the situation where each club gets a vote and we were left with the majority, all the votes were cast and I was in the minority. You have to fulfil the games programme one way or another and we have to work out what's the best thing for the players - that's paramount.

"We will resolve those things as we go along but if we feel it's best for players to stay here, it's not because of the games programme but because we think it's most beneficial to them. The overall picture is not just playing in these games but involves various other experiences for them. If the manager feels it's the right time for them to go out on loan, they will go out. We may well find next year's statistics show you the Reserves team is even younger than it was over the last couple of years but, again, we'll have to look at that.

"One of the things that is frustrating and difficult to understand is playing at 11am at Stoke's training ground, which doesn't seem any kind of progression to me. One of the points we like about it is it's different for the Reserves - usually a night-time game and they may have to wear the club blazer, plus there might be a crowd there at the stadium. Hopefully, that can continue. They're always talking about bridging the gap between the second-team and first-team squad but I can't see any benefit at all."

There have also been rumours that some clubs could look to organise fixtures behind closed doors, but McClair feels this would be a backwards step for the Under-21s.

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