West Ham right-back Ryan Fredericks has been discussing the benefits of young players learning their trade in the lower leagues of English Football.
It has become increasingly difficult for youngsters to break through to first-team level at Premier League clubs, with many arguing that hanging around at top flight clubs and playing at U23 level stunts the development of talented young players.
Fredericks began his career with Spurs but spent loan spells with Brentford, Millwall, and Middlesbrough before leaving White Hart Lane to join Bristol City on a permanent deal in 2015.
The 26-year-old joined Fulham not long after and he would be one of the star performers in the Cottagers side that was promoted back to the Premier League last season and his performances at Craven Cottage attracted the interest of his current club West Ham.
Fredericks believes that it is hugely beneficial for young players at top-flight clubs to step down the footballing pyramid in order to gain vital experience before hopefully then making their way back to the elite level one day.
“I think it’s a common route now,” Fredericks told whufc.com.
“It’s very rare, especially at some of the top clubs in England, that you’re going to go from playing Under-18 football and then you’re going to be trusted to go straight into the first team at a Premier League club.
“It gives you good experience and there are a lot of good players at the lower levels. We’ve seen from players from the Championship and even League One stepping up to the Premier League and doing well.
“That should really spur some of the young lads on to go out and get games and experience, as men’s football is very different from Under-18 and Under-23 football and there some things you can only learn by playing men’s football.”