Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting TIMES NEWS to 80360, or email us
Jamal Lowe and George Sykes discuss early experiences of life in the Barnet first team squad.
It is no secret Barnet have made a commitment to their Academy this summer. The Bees have invested heavily in the youth system and plan to base future success around ‘homegrown’ players.
It certainly is an admirable plan and youngsters hoping to break into the Barnet squad already have a couple of players to look up to in strikers Jamal Lowe and George Sykes.
The two 18-year-olds are slowly edging their way into the Bees first team and the duo both featured against Aldershot Town on Tuesday night.
Lowe started his second game in four days having played for Barnet against Bradford City, while Sykes was introduced at half-time against the Shots.
It is a compliment to the coaches at the Bees and the duo’s natural ability that neither looked overawed, nor out of their depth, despite the step up into the Football League.
League Two can be an uncompromising place, as the youngsters explained.
“The physical side is a big difference. Also the intelligence of the defenders and the players is a lot better, which obviously makes it harder,” said Sykes.
“I put myself about as much as I can. Obviously I’m not going to be the strongest yet but that will come in the next year as I work hard in the gym. So that won’t be so much of an issue as I continue to develop.”
Despite featuring as a striker for the Under-18 side, Lowe has played on the right of an attacking three in his two starts.
He believes it is a role he is more suited to playing in the first team.
“The tempo of the game is very different,” he explained. “When you are going from an Under-18 or Under-21 game, everything is faster so you have to be sharper on the ball and take better touches.
“In the first team I feel I am more suited to play on the wing because it gives me the chances to go one-on-one with a defender.
“Helping the full-back is something that I have worked hard on in training and during a match I am thinking about it constantly. The right-back is always talking to me as well so that helps.”
Both players have made a steady rise from youth football to the first team.
At the age of 16, Lowe was playing in a development college programme before being spotted by Paul Fairclough and signing a scholarship with the Bees. He netted 19 times for the Under-18s last season.
Sykes was playing Sunday league football before joining Barnet at Under-16 level but was top scorer for the Under-18s during the 2011/12 campaign with 24 goals.
Certainly impressive records but what are the two strikers hoping to achieve this season?
Sykes replied: “To make as many appearances as I can, to perform as well as I can for the team and hopefully grab a couple of goals.”
“It is similar for me,” Lowe added. “I want to get as many games as I can, keep working hard in training, and in the gym, and just improve my game as the season goes on.”