Luton Town U18s chief Inigo Idiakez will look to make progress in the FA Youth Cup as Luton entertain Stevenage in the first round proper at Kenilworth Road this evening.
The Hatters have enjoyed some real success in the competition over recent years, reaching the quarter-final in February 2016.
There’s definitely some talented players in the squad, but they have to show that every single training day.Inigi Idiakez
On this year’s campaign, Idiakez said: “For me, it’s every single day, every single game, it’s not just the Youth Cup. Every single league game for me is important, every training session is important and they have to understand that.
“Yes, the Youth Cup we’ll try to win games, in the league we’ll try to win games, we’re going to try every single day to win things.
“But for me the main thing for them is working hard, trying to do your best, trying to improve as a player and try to play with the first team.”
Idiakez took the role of U18s chief back in September and has been pleased with the quality of youngsters coming through the ranks at Kenilworth Road.
The former Derby player, who nurtured players like Hamza Choudhury, Josh Knight and Ben Chilwell during his time as Leicester City lead youth development coach, continued: “There’s good players here.
“I’m not going to name the talented players as I feel quite happy with everyone.
“I’ve told them what I want, told them what Nathan (Jones) wants, we’ll work together, with Paul (Hart) and Joaquin (Gomez) as well.
“There’s definitely some talented players in the squad, but they have to show that every single training day.
“If they’re not doing that, they will find it difficult to be in the first team and if they do that, it will be easier for them.”
With Jones giving a host of academy graduates their debut since taking charge back in January 2016, Idiakez knows it’s a place where young players can have a career.
He said: “That’s something really important to me as I came through the system of that. They normally produce a lot of players from the academy, this is something I’m really interested about.
“I really believe in English players because sometimes it looks like it’s an easy life they’ve got here, but it’s quite difficult to find a pathway to play in the big teams.
“Definitely here, they have a pathway, the first team is there, the manager is ready to do that. So hopefully they understand that, they work really hard with me, they go with the first team, they do the same.
“I spoke with them and said ‘you do this with me, you’ll have a chance, if you’re not doing it with the U18s, you’re not going to have a chance’.
“Football is so difficult, not only to play one game, to play 100 games, even if it’s League Two, League One, Championship. So you have to do it every day and I think they’re trying to understand that, but they have to do it.
“Unfortunately we’re not in the Premier League, it’s League Two, so the team is there, the pathway is there, it’s easier here than if you have a team in the Premier League.
“Nathan is really demanding about being prepared when needed and I’m here to try to help them.
“But sometimes you tell them things and if it’s not coming from you, it’s going to be difficult, so it has to come from the players to do things.”
With Town’s first team involved in a promotion push this term, then Idiakez wants to play a part in an exciting future, adding: “It’s at least a Championship club in history, and now they’re trying to do that.
“I spoke to the chairman, he has good ideas to move this football club forward and hopefully we can all do it together.”