ACADEMY: Scholarships offered to U16 players

Five scholarships offered to U16 group

Academy coach Dave Wilkes brought us more good new from the youth set up this week as he confirmed that five players from the current U16 group have been signed up for their two-year U18 scholarship for next season.

“We have offered a total of five scholarships to our academy players this season,” he said. “Obviously that’s good news but it's difficult for the lads we've had to release. 

“Some of them have been with us since they were eight and my heart does go out to them when we have to tell them it hasn’t quite happened.” 

“Alan [Moore] and I had meetings with the players and their parents last Wednesday night and we explained the reasons why we hadn’t taken them on at this point,” he added. “They were all disappointed, as you can imagine, but they understood the decisions and we’ll try and help them as best we can.”

On the lads who have made it through, he said: “It's very nice to recruit players who have been with us through the academy system, especially when they’re local lads. 

“They've all worked hard over the years so it's nice to give them a reward at the end of it. The more local players we can get through our own academy the better.”

“Jordan Holt has been with us since he was eight,” he explained. “He obviously has a famous footballing uncle, and I’m sure people can guess who that is. He's hardworking and he can play either in midfield or up front. He's very enthusiastic and he's got good physical attributes. Hopefully he can slot into the youth team and develop himself as a player.” 

“Max Brown has been with us since U13 level,” he continued. “He's a forward and he's got a lot of pace. He's been injured for the last six or seven weeks but he did enough to show us that he was ready to step up. He's been the top scorer in the U16s and we hope he can kick on and show that form in the youth team next season.” 

"Craig McCue is another who joined us at U13 level,” he told us. “He's a robust left-sided player and he can play anywhere on the left side. He's a strong and physical player and when he comes in full time we think we can knock the edges off, and refine him, so he develops as we think he should.”

“Kieran Hall came on trial with us in November last year and did very well in a game we played against Sunderland,” he added.” Since then he's played some games in the youth team and done very well. He's another striker who has proved himself at that level already.”

“Cameron Salkeld is another who has played some trial games for us after being released from Newcastle United,” he said. “He's put some impressive performances in and he's something that we haven't got in terms of an attacking midfield player.”

On the club’s recruitment policy, he said: “The ideal scenario is to find and develop your own players, but some of the bigger clubs sometimes have a surplus of players that might just have the edge on what we've got. 

“We've had some good players from other clubs in the past and we will continue to look at that. It must be difficult for players at big Premier League clubs to try to get through the ranks with so many other players round them. We can offer that opportunity and hopefully a pathway to the first team - if they show the potential. 

“We've told the players they've got to the next level, but this is when the hard work starts. The expectation is there so they have to come to work every day wanting to be a better player. They'll be reminded every day of why they're here, and they’ll realise how hard it is once they get into their first year with us next season. 

“We'll do an induction in April where they'll be told about everything that comes with the scholarship, including the education side of it and the jobs they'll be expected to do. I think it's the physical side of full time training which takes them by surprise the most, but I’m sure they will all be looking forward to it.”

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