Who will Aberdeen next send south?

Written by Thomas Mackintosh.

THIS season Ryan Fraser joined a list of youngsters to successfully come through the Aberdeen Youth Academy and graduate to a place in the English Leagues.

Fraser joined League Two outfit Bournemouth in the winter transfer window, following the likes of Chris Maguire, Fraser Fyvie, Jack Grimmer and to an extent even the current club captain and modern day cult hero Russell Anderson, all four decided to pursue their careers down South.

So far moves for these players have been bittersweet. Maguire left after a strong season which saw the youngster be given a Scotland cap by Craig Levein. The winger opted to join Derby County, but a lack of first team appearances saw him shipped out to a troubled Portsmouth side.

Now at Sheffield Wednesday, his career seems to have failed to live up to the hype he was receiving at the end of the 2010/11 campaign.

Anderson joined Sunderland in the summer of 2007 in a £1 million move, which also saw him donate his entire signing on fee to the clubs development scheme, to help players of the future get the most out of their careers.

The era of Jimmy Calderwood oversaw a number of youngsters make and sustain their place in the starting eleven at Pittodrie, along with Maguire; Zander Diamond, Andrew Considine - the latter who will justifiably receive a testimonial by the time his latest contract runs out.

One of the very few positives that were taken from the disappointing regime of Mark McGhee was the number of youngsters he brought through. The former Dons’ hero turned villain in the space of eighteen months after years of top four finishes, Aberdeen were subjected to a season of disappointing results.

However, after a mass clear out in the summer that McGhee took over from former Aberdeen boss Jimmy Calderwood, he was forced to introduce several youngsters into the first team squad.
Peter Pawlett, Ryan Jack and Fraser Fyvie made excellent debuts in the SPL and have each shown early potential in their careers, however it is the latter for me that showed the best potential.

He became an instant cult hero with the red army, a local lad turned down lucrative deals from down south to turn out the team he supported as a boy.  

He became the youngest ever footballer to play in the SPL at the age of 16, when he lined up to face Hamilton Academical in only the second game of the season for the Dons. Later on in the season, he scored his only goal to date in the SPL, the opener in a 3-0 victory away to Hearts, and in doing so, becoming the youngest goal scorer in SPL history.

Fyvie went on to make twenty-six first team appearances for Aberdeen in his first full season. With McGhee bringing in experience in the summer of 2010, this was the season that Fyvie was due to shine more. However, due to a freak injury he suffered on Alloa Athletic’s artificial pitch, he was ruled of the 2010/11 season with cruciate knee ligament damage.

He returned to the squad in the 2011/12 season, again which saw the Dons' finish in the bottom six as well as a disappointing Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Hibernian, culminated in Fyvie's decision to turn down the contract extension offers by the club.

Former Scotland boss Craig Brown became McGhee’s successor midway through the season, and once Fyvie was back to full fitness, Brown began to see what all the hype was about. Now at the age of 19, Fyvie has his entire career ahead of him with all the potential to emulate some of the great names that have come from Scotland’s youth system.

Fyvie has led out the national team at under 16, 17, 18 and 19 as captain and it is a sure feat which will seem him no doubt progress into the full national team later in his career if he continue.

He finally made the switch to English football last summer, joining Roberto Martinez' Wigan side, a team which the young ginger hasn't played much for in terms of league apperances, but has made contributions in the Latics' League and FA Cup runs.

Who's next to join the conveyor belt of youngsters to leave Pittodrie to the lure of England,

So far this season, Ryan Jack has matured into a strong candidate for making the right-back position his own for years to come, with some fantastic performances this campaign - despite a long lay off with injury.

As has Clark Robertson, who spent most of the end of last season on the sidelines, looks more at ease this year at left back, taking on more responsibility alongside the experienced centre backs Anderson and Reynolds.

Jamie Masson, Cammy Smith and Joe Shaughnessy have pledged their imminent futures to the club - a positive and bold move by AFC securing these youngsters, but this has turned sour in the past.

These players need only look down South at how some of these players have gone - early days but Ryan Fraser is yet to make an appearance for Bournemouth, Maguire has moved from club to club in the Championship and has effectively kissed his Scotland career goodbye - the best place for these youngsters is at the club that guided them through youth level and into the first team.
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