With second-year winger Lewis Bell having secured an agreement for his first professional contract on Thursday afternoon, we spoke to youth boss Eric Kinder about the player, and about what it means to the club for there to be a continued pathway from the academy to the first team ranks.
“Lewis has come back from lockdown and, being honest, he’s surprised us,” he said. “He’s been asking questions and wanting to know what we expect of him, and what we think his best position is.
“You can see he’s used the time away from work to think about what he wants and how he needs to go forward. He’s put that into action and rapidly the first team staff and David [Holdsworth] have seen enough in him to offer him his contract.”
“The Liverpool game is a good example,” he continued. “I wasn’t there last week, but the reports are that he played well. I spoke to everyone who went to the game and I watched bits of it.
“Again, he surprised me because he was so positive, but when I spoke to him when he got back you could tell he loved being in those surroundings. Some lads can go to places like that and be overwhelmed, but he came back and he’d loved every minute of it.”
With him being another local lad to make it through, he commented: “He’s a Carlisle lad and that’s what we all want to see. I’ve always said if we had 16 local lads in the youth team and I didn’t have to go out scouting then that would be great.
“We also want to try and get the best young boys we can, so we generally take on the best local lads then go outside and find the numbers we need to make the group up. I won’t just take local lads on because they’re local, my wish is one day that we’ll have all 16 scholars who are local boys, but also better than what we can get from outside.
“Lewis is from here with parents who support the club, and that’s a nice thing in these days of EPPP. It’s very rare now that a boy will come through from nine and play for the first team, because they tend to get snapped up. We can do that here because of our geography, and we get well supported by the club.”
But will it change his attitude having been given his contract so early in the season and still with his scholarship programme to complete?
“I don’t think there will be any problem with us having to keep Lewis’ feet on the ground,” he insisted. “He’s very level-headed and like I keep saying he’s a nice boy. I have told him to stay nice around others but change when he goes onto a football pitch.
“He’s done that,and I pulled him after one of the first training sessions after he’d been whingeing at one of the first years who hadn’t passed him the ball when he’d wanted it. I reminded him of how he was last year when the second years would have a go at him, and he didn’t like it.
“They’ve got to be able to do that, but they’ve got to make sure it’s done in the right way, and he does. I don’t think we’ll have any problem whatsoever with Lewis keeping his feet on the floor, he’s not that sort of boy.”
“The other side of something like this is how the other lads react,” he said. “It’s up to them now and they’ll go one way or the other.
“They’ll either use it as an inspiration and push on and try to get a contract, or they’ll think they’re getting left behind. There’ll certainly get help, but I would think with the group we have that it will inspire them and show them that the rewards are there if they work hard for them.”
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