BARNSLEY academy manager Bobby Hassell believes the Reds have a ‘golden generation’ of young talents and, with the right management, half the first 11 could have come through the youth system within the next several years.

The under 18s have finished in the top two for the last three years, winning the title last season and then losing Saturday’s play-off semi-final.

Fabio Jalo and Aiden Marsh have played in the first team in league matches while several others have appeared in cup games.

The likes of Nathan James, Vimal Yoganathan, Aaron Atkinson, Jonathan Bland, Theo Chapman and Emaissa Nzondo are all highly-rated within the club, with 15-year-old defender Oliver Wilkinson was with England under 15s last week.

Hassell told the Chronicle: “I think we could have a golden generation. There are some real talents in the academy.

“In three or four years, I think it’s possible that at least half first team will be made up of lads who have come through our academy.

“There are five to ten who I will be amazed if they are not playing in the first team by the age of 21.

“Then, in the younger age groups, the current under 14s are probably the best group we’ve ever had at any level.

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“The under 11s just played Juventus and Chelsea in a tournament, and beat Inter Milan in another one, so that put us on an international stage.

“We’re making a name for ourselves.

“It’s only my opinion, but I think it’s the best generation of players at the club since the 1990s when they got to the Premier League.”

Hassell knows that the talent needs to be nurtured in the right way.

“It’s down to myself, the sporting director and the first team head coach to make sure there is a pathway for them and they get opportunities to prove themselves.

“No one will be employed as head coach unless they show interest in the academy.

“That is the remit of the owners.

“Next season they want to promote players into the first team training group a lot more.

“There will be five or six there every day then it’s up to them to impress the manager.”

One of the crown jewels of the current youth system is Jalo, the 18-year-old striker who has played for the first team across the last two seasons as well as Portugal under 19s.

Hassell said: “I believe Fabio should have started a lot more games than he did last season because he creates moments.

“But I do understand it because not many coaches are willing to play kids.

“Only Keith Hill and Daniel Stendel have really done it while I have been at Barnsley.

“Fabio is unplayable at academy level, everyone is scared to death of him.

“He is sloppy in possession and needs to clean that up, we know that and he’s working on it.

“But, if you start him for 70 minutes, he will have six or seven efforts on goal.

“No player at the club can do what he does with dribbling and shooting from anywhere with no backlift.”

Barnsley under 18s lost their play-off semi-final 5-3 at Charlton Athletic. The Reds equalised three times to make it 3-3 but conceded twice more.

Jalo scored the first then set up the next two for Luke Alker and a trialist.

Hassell said: “We’re not too disappointed.

“We always ask for a good performance then generally results marry up with that.

“It was a very even, open game with a lot of attacking talent on show. I said before we would need five goals to win it because Charlton are the top-scorers in the country.

“But we conceded three goals that were so avoidable which is the only real disappointment.”

Barnsley under 21s finished fourth, two points off the play-offs, after a strong end to the season.

Hassell said: “The 21s should have won their league. They chucked away about five games and, if they had won three of them, they would have finished first. We have put pressure on Tom (Harban, under 21s coach) and we expect them to get in the play-offs next year.”