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YOUTH: The lads are in high spirits

1 September 2016

Club News

YOUTH: The lads are in high spirits

1 September 2016

Reaction to the Hartlepool youth game

We spoke to Academy Manager Darren Edmondson about the victory over Hartlepool in the Youth Alliance Cup round robin fixture last Saturday.

"It was another good performance but we were made to work hard for it," he said. "The scoreline maybe flatters us slightly because we scored the third goal late on when they were pushing for the equaliser.

"It was a great finish from Keighan [Kerr] and he's maybe a name we need to remember for the future. He's a centre forward with our under 16s at the moment. He's been training with us during the summer holidays and he's developing really nicely.

"We played well as a team and it's the case that at any level you've got to take your chances when you're on top. If you don't do that it puts pressure on the rest of your team. Even during pre-season we didn't have a problem scoring goals. It was the other end and the work off the ball that we needed to improve on. That's happening at the moment and we're reaping the rewards for it."

"The lads are in high spirits at the moment and that's what results do for you," he continued. "Once you enjoy training the environment is conducive to learning and development. That hopefully shows them that Dave [Wilkes] and myself know what we're talking about and they listen to us a bit more.

"The ultimate goal for all of them is to get near the manager's squad - whether it's this year or next year. That's got to be their ambition and their drive every day they come into the football club." 

On the relatively young age of the squad, he said: "All the second years are dropping like flies at the moment with injuries. Without wanting to single them out, Morgan [Bacon], Joe Breen, Max Brown, Jack Egan and Cameron Salkeld are the five second years who have managed to stay fit, and they're bringing a little bit of much-needed experience to the group.

"Cameron and Jack are two great athletes with good pace and you can turn that into a counter-attacking force. Ahead of them we've got Max Brown who is a good, clinical finisher with pace to burn. On the counter-attack we're very strong and quick which has been the catalyst we've used for us to win matches. We've built our team around a high press and a quick counter-attack and those three are fundamental to that.

"I'm gutted for Jordan Holt and Rhys Groves, our other second years, because they had started the season well. They're going to be missing for a while, and we also lost Kieran Hall early in pre-season to a stress fracture.

"The second years are a little bit flat because of that so there's been some work to do with them. Jordan [Beech] has been talking to them and trying to keep them in high spirits. The last thing you want as a second year is to get an injury, it's soul destroying for them, but we're trying to keep them in the right frame of mind. We're keeping our fingers crossed that they all make quick recoveries."

"The first years are all learning very well," he told us. "Again, without wanting to single anyone out, I think Luke Taylor has stepped up well. He's really raised his game. Kieron Olsen is another who went away with the first team during pre-season and he's a level headed young man. He's got a great character and work ethic." 

A real test of character for any team, of course, is how they react to a defeat so we asked the Academy boss what he thinks the reaction will be when (if) this unbeaten run comes to an end.

"They're bound to lose games," he admitted. "We've only got 11 fit outfield bodies at the moment, so we've got a few trialists in to try and make some numbers up. We're promoting under 16s through. We're learning a lot about them which is good for us in terms of recruitment for next year. There are always positives from all sorts of situations you find yourself in.

"The first years have got to keep learning. During that period of pre-season when we weren't winning games they learned a lot, and that will happen this year because there are a lot of good teams out there. They will be under pressure in games but they've got to be mentally and physically strong, both individually and as a group."

Ahead of the game against Tranmere on the training pitch at Brunton Park on Friday afternoon, he said: "Tranmere always bring good players through so they will be a tough test.

"Even though they've dropped into the conference they're still producing good players. I think they took four on last year so that says everything about them. They're in a good catchment area which will help them. We'll develop things through this week and see what we get from our lads on Friday.

"We think Friday kick off timings are good, in some cases. To travel to certain places for 11am on Saturday mornings can be difficult, so I asked if we could change some fixtures to a Friday because of that. 

"In some cases the opposition responded and said they'd come up here on a Friday as well. It gives the players the weekend to recuperate and also means they can watch first team games, which is all part of their learning. The more first team games they can watch the better the learning situation is for them." 

United - Bacon, Goldthorpe, Olsen, Watson (Breen 60), Taylor, Hutchinson, Lloyd (Egan 75), Adewusi (Kerr 80), Brown, Salkeld, Cowburn (Wells 70). Subs - Ashton.

Goals - Salkeld, Cowburn, Kerr.

Next Up - United v Tranmere Rovers, Brunton Park training pitch, Friday 2 September, kick off 1pm

United PlayerHD subscribers can see an interview with Darren Edmondson now. Click HERE to go to the PlayerHD platform. Follow the same link for more information on United PlayerHD, and to subscribe.

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