Five Under-15s and one Under-14 sign pre-scholarship dealsAcademy coach Callum McKenzie reveals the club’s high hopes for their current U15 group after five of the squad were offered pre scholarships.
Ryan Millington, Dan Walker, James Rowlands, Lewi Redding and Jermaine Turner have all be offered the deal from the U15 group, whilst U14 Ethan O’Toole has also been included.
The age group has been a source of high hopes for the club for some time, as McKenzie explained to ShrewsWeb.
“The U15s are a big group and we’ve had our eye on them since they were U13s, and they’re at that age now where we’re starting to reward them for their hard work.
“Hopefully they will be the first group that come through and fill the scholarship programme, and they will be our first full quota of homegrown players.”
He went on to say: “From a young age, the attitude and desire, you could see that in them straight away.
“Just from watching training sessions you can see how competitive they are, they’ve got that little bit of a mean streak in them.”
Most of the U15 players have already had brief experience of the Youth Team environment, and U18 assistant manager McKenzie believes that this can only be a positive for the players.
“It’s important that we drop them into the scholarship environment, just to see if they can cope, and they’ve all done really well.
McKenzie continued: “Some have played more than others, Ryan has played probably more that we’d have liked him too due to injuries and suspensions.
“Jermaine is in the squad for Saturday so that will be his first taste of U18s football and hopefully Dan will get a little bit of experience before the end of the season as well.”
O’Toole is the sole member of the U14 squad to be offered his pre scholarship, and McKenzie believes that this is representative of the talent and attitude that the club see in the youngster.
“He came in as an U12, I remember coaching him on his first night and he just had something, but I couldn’t have guessed that he would develop the way that he has.
He’s an exciting player but he’s got a long way to go, he needs to keep working hard and have the right attitude but we know as an academy that he’s got that and that’s why we’ve offered so early.”
The U18s will be running with a smaller that usual squad next season, but as McKenzie explains, this is due to the belief of the club that the younger age groups can fill important gaps when required.
“We’re really confident in them all, we have players in that age group that are very close and they just need to keep working hard and hopefully they’ll get some good news soon as well.”
He went on: “We haven’t been in a rush to fill all the places because we do have a lot of talent underneath the U18s.
“Hopefully we will get a number of them playing week in, week out next year because we are confident that they can cope with it.”
The coach also praised the schools for helping the development of not only the players, but the people behind them.
“They spent the majority of their time at school, they’ve all got good PE teachers and good environments.
“We work very closely to ensure that first and foremost they’re good students, good people, and then good footballers after that.”