Seven players to join Under-18 scholarship programme next seasonYouth Team assistant manager Callum McKenzie hailed the “exciting” group that the club is putting together in the U18s squad after seven young players were offered their two-year scholarship deals.
Jack Atkinson, Jack Leask, Lifumpa Mwandwe, Brett Taylor, Kian Taylor, Rhys Davies and Reiss Corfield will become permanent members of the Youth Team squad for the next two years after signing their deals.
McKenzie told ShrewsWeb of his excitement of the potential team for next season, also his pleasure in the club’s long-term plan for the players paying off.
“It’s really exciting when you look at the group that we’ve got as second years next year, and if you add the first years to them, I’m really looking forward to working with the group.”
He continued: “They’ve come through different avenues but we’ve managed to get some good players coming through and signed some good players from other clubs.
“That was always an aim when AJ [Andy Jones] came in, we looked at the players that we have underneath the scholarship programme and I think it’s really important that we use them wisely.”
The attention of the players will now inevitably turn to a possible step up to professional level over the next two years, but McKenzie was keen to highlight the level of improvement needed to succeed during their scholarships.
“It’s a step up for them physically.”
“Can they cope with playing against bigger boys? Because sometimes they’re men, they’re already developed and it’s important that the players can cope with that.”
McKenzie went on: “Tactically there is more demands on them, that comes from working everyday with the coaches.
“It’s a real challenge for the coaches with some of the teams we come up against, and the players need to be able to take instructions on board and carry them out, and all of the players that have been offered for next year are definitely in that category.”
Atkinson, Mwandwe and B. Taylor have all had experience with the U18s this season, but some of the scholars have joined from elsewhere.
McKenzie highlighted the importance of the club developing their own talents, but also asserted that Town’s positive links with other clubs can prove beneficial to bring players in the club, but only as long as they fit the academy profile.
“Our prime aim is to promote our own and when there are holes we can then look elsewhere.
“We have great links with all of the bigger clubs in the country, we’re very aware of players that are coming out of their programme.”
“They have to fit our profile in terms of their desire and attitude, the ones we’ve brought in fit that mould so they’ll fit well into the group.”