Nigel Pearson’s words of advice as make or break time arrives for Bristol City academy players

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It’s that time of year when many of the young players are learning their fate in BS3.

Bristol City’s academy has reached decision time over several of their young players.

BristolWorld understands that last week academy players learned of their fates, as those are to be let go learned of what the future holds.

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In contrast to the successes of Alex Scott, Ayman Benarous, Tommy Conway, Sam Bell and others moving forward with the first-team, some dreams will be ended at the unfortunate other end of the scale.

The Robins are, at least, set to let two young defenders leave BS3 though they are expected to trigger an extension on forward Prince Henry’s contract for the young forward to remain at Ashton Gate.

Omar Taylor-Clarke and Seb Palmer-Houlden have been handed new deals.

No doubt the task doesn’t get any easier for the academy staff letting players go, nor those who find that their path forward takes a turn.

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For any player leaving Failand, however, then they only need recall the many, many stories of players bouncing back from set-backs to go on and find success elsewhere.

One inspiring story: the Robins released promising midfielder James Taylor two years ago, only for the player to go on and sign for Premier League side Crystal Palace, gaining a one year extension last summer.

Indeed, some of City’s finest players have bounced back after knock-backs to then make the move forward further down the line, from unsuccessful trials at Premier League clubs to being sold to teams further down the English football pyramid.

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BristolWorld asked manager Nigel Pearson this week if he had any advice for those players who go on to depart the club, with the Robins heavily invested in their academy, and plenty of talent having progressed through to the senior side on the flip side.

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“I will answer that but I think one of the problems that football has had for a number of years, that when players leave from some of the really big clubs that a lot of players fall out of the game,” explained Pearson on Thursday at the pre-Bournemouth press conference.

“I think one of the philosophies of how we work here, whoever comes into the system, whether they come in very early as young kids really, I think there’s got to be a level of reality right from the outset.

“The conversion rates from how many young players, nine-10-year-olds come into a football club, and how many actually make it at that football club, those numbers and percentages of success are still relatively small.

“That’s something for very important to understand from the outset, parents and kids themselves. What’s very important in the journey of developing as a footballer, whether a boy or girl, is that the experience is a good one.

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“One of the things we pride ourselves on here is that when we have to let people down, and we have to give them difficult news of them not progressing here, is that we try and make sure that the experience they’ve had here is a positive one - and that we help them find a level.

“I’m a big believer in that some players can not make it to the professional ranks to start with, find a level and can come back into the game. The non-League scene still has a very active part to play in players’ development.

“Players that don’t make it for Bristol City will hopefully filter down to some of the local non-league sides below us and those players could come again,” he added, emphasising that players need to enjoy their time in the game.

Pearson pointed out that maturation period comes at different times from everyone. Sometimes players develop later in their career and success can still come.

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Just look at the story of Pearson signing Leicester City talisman Jamie Vardy for one, who had played non-League football before a switch to the Foxes at 25 years of age.

The Bristol City boss believes that too many good players fall out of the game from the top-end, and that cultural issues and other factors sometimes stop players from the high end joining clubs further down the pyramid.

Pearson himself came through at non-League Heanor Town and played in a very good youth side that included former England players. And the City manager himself took an indirect route into the professional game.

“I played in a youth team in Nottingham where Calvin Plummer, Chris Fairclough [former England U21 player], Steve Hodge [former England player of 24 caps] played in the same side,” said Pearson.

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“They went on to break through at Forest, Derby whatever and I went on to college played non-League football and broke back in later on. But I had a decent career so there are always different routes.

“The non-League side scene is, fortunately for football, still very active and I think the level of football is sometimes better than people imagine. There is still a route. Clubs like us need to make sure we still have our eye on the local scene - and we do - and that’s something that’s very important,” added the 58-year-old City boss.

Meanwhile, Bristol City have announced that young forward Sam Pearson has returned from his loan at Inverness Caledonian Thistle to Ashton Gate on compassionate grounds.

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