Date: 14th February 2007 at 11:45am
Written by:

This is not as a backlash to the recent reserve defeats as Jimmy Calderwood has said for some time now that he does not want to retain the services of Jamie Winter or David Donald. They have both spend most of the season on the Pittodrie bench as the Dons fill their Under 21 quota but neither have pressed on to be serious contenders for the first eleven.

Jamie nor David have been able to oust an established player or even give the manager a selection problem this season and with therefore be released on free transfers. Their use as token Under 21 players,2 must be named for each match squad under SFA guidelines, comes to an end when they will exceed that age limit next season.

21 year old Dundonian Jamie Winter was a Christmas transfer window signing from Leeds United in 2005 by Calderwood and despite a promising start to his Dons career; he scored an excellent free kick against Celtic, he has fallen from the starting line-up. His expected development has stalled and only makes the subs bench due to his eligibility for the first team through his under 21 status and is never really considered for action. His only appearance this season came in the Queens Park League Cup humiliation and that performance could have sparked his managers keenness to sanction his departure.

Defender David Donald became the youngest player in Aberdeen`s history to play for the top team when he made his debut against Dundee in March 2004 against Dundee. A product of the Dons youth system, big things were expected of David but he`s not fancied by Calderwood and has only made one first team appearance since his debut. That appearance being as a sub in last seasons` fairly meaningless 2-2 draw with Celtic when he replaced Gary Dempsey as the Dons struggled with injuries and suspensions. The Dons had been 2-0 down at Pittodrie but a second half double for John Stewart salvaged a point for the Dons.

Jimmy has challenged the youngsters in the reserves and Under 19`s to progress and take their place next season but he has also questioned if the mandatory “2 players under the age of 21 in the squad for every game” is benefiting the game and fans.

‘We know having to put under-21 players on the bench can present problems.

‘I can understand why the SPL brought the rule in, but some clubs are putting youngsters among their substitutes in place of internationals.

‘I don’t think that is right. People want to see youths coming through, but they also want to see the best players on the pitch.

‘It gives some players a chance to become involved. It is always a challenge for them to step up.

‘We already have a few players in that age bracket who have been involved in our first team this season such as Dan Smith, Andrew Considine and Chris Maguire.

‘We also have Michael Paton coming through, someone we have high hopes for, and there are a couple of others who we will make decisions on at the end of the season.

‘We believe Maguire and Paton can go on and do something and I hope they do. The same applies to Martin Skinner, who has had a bad injury this season, but who has potential.’

Players such as Kenny Haswell and Frederik Engelhardt, signed from Norwegian club Ham-Kam for £15,000 have been signed for their potential and this shows Aberdeen`s dedication to developing youth and Calderwood knows he will have to be patient to reap the benefits.

He said: ‘I don’t know if I will see that investment come to fruition during my time at the club because we are still starting out.

‘We have some good young players already in our system, but they will take a few years to emerge.

‘We had a good phase when the likes of Darren Mackie, Chris Clark and Michael Hart came through.

‘That team won youth cups, which says a lot about the kind of players who came through at Aberdeen then, but it will take a few years for youths to start cropping up again.’