May 10, 2014
Planning has already started for next season’s Under-18 campaign, with Under-16 players drafted into the line-ups for the final few Under-18 games of the season. The following have all seen recent involvement:
Chris Paul (right back)
Joe Muscatt (left back)
Zenon Stylianides (central midfielder)
Charlie Owens (central midfielder)
Armani Daly (winger/forward)
Charlie Hayford (attacking midfielder)
Ryan Loft (forward)
Although there have been no official announcements as yet, I would expect all of these to be starting the first year of their scholarship next season.
Centre-backs Cameron Carter-Vickers and Christian Maghoma – both of whom have played many times for the Under-18s this season – will presumably have two-year scholarship deals too, with next year being their first official year.
My understanding is that goalkeeper Liam Priestley and full-back Kane Vincent-Young are to be released, with second year forward Daniel Akindayini offered a third year of his scholarship (presumably as the club are undecided on him).
I also understand that one year professional contracts have been offered to Luke McGee (goalkeeper), Filip Lesniak (holding midfielder), Aaron McEneff (right back), Nathan Oduwa (winger/forward), William Miller (attacking midfielder), and Emmanuel Sonupe (winger).
Connor Ogilvie (centre back/left back) and Harry Winks (versatile midfielder) have been given two year professional contracts.
We have some exciting talent in our Academy at the moment – many of the above, as well as Josh Onomah and Kyle Walker-Peters have been consistent across the season, with Anton Walkes, Lloyd Ross, Anthony Georgiou and Cy Goddard also coming to the fore towards the end of the season.
On Sunday we play Everton at Goodison Park in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League play-offs – the winner will face either Manchester City or West Ham United in the overall final. We drew 2-2 with Everton last month, and they are an excellent side at this level.
Whilst it would be nice to win the competition, the focus for the management is always on individual player development. Playing in finals/play-offs is an excellent test of a player’s temperament and a terrific experience, but winning isn’t everything as far as the management are concerned – although I’m sure the players will be desperate to get a result! COYSU18s!