Two new faces join the Academy
Shrewsbury Town’s Academy have once against strengthened their backroom staff by bringing in a couple of new faces in recent months.
Former Wolves Academy Coach Dan Copnall has recently joined Shrewsbury Town’s Academy as their new Head of Coach Development, whilst former Wales Under-21s coach Connor Roberts joins as Academy Goalkeeper Coach.
Copnall came through the ranks at local rivals Wrexham and then spent seven years at Wolves, coaching all age groups from the Under-7s to the Under-18s.
Dan takes on the role which was previously held by current Academy Manager Eric Ramsay and he admits that the opportunity to come to Shrewsbury was too good to turn down.
“I’m delighted to be here”, Copnall told ShrewsWeb.
“There’s a really good group of staff to work with amongst the Academy. It’s nice as well that the first-team are doing really well, so there’s a really good feel factor about the place and I’m really looking forward to looking further into the programme with the staff and all the players.
“The Academy has got a good reputation of bringing through players and Eric and the staff have done a really good job in terms of what they are doing, so the opportunity for me to come here really excited me.”
Copnall’s role will see him work closely with the coaches to try and not only develop the players, but also to develop themselves and he’s excited by the potential at the club.
“My role will entail supporting the coaches both on and off the grass, said Dan.
“What I’m trying to do at the minute is to try and get to know all the staff, get them to identify what their strengths are and what areas that they feel they can improve on.
“There will be times when I will be on the grass delivering, but my main job is supporting the coaches both on and off the field in training sessions and on matchday.
“Each of the coaches will have a development action plan which they will create with my support, which will help them identify where they want to get to within football.
“It’s about trying to develop coaches to make them better, to then make players better and to hopefully push the programme further and get players into the first-team.”
Town’s Academy has produced a number of players that have gone onto play first-team football in recent years and Dan is hopeful that developing the coaches could lead to even better players in the future.
“Our job is to try and get an extra five percent out of each player from an individual point of view”, said Copnall.
“We are responsible for trying to bring players through, trying to challenge them and trying to make them better.”
Meanwhile, Connor has taken over from long-serving goalkeeper coach Phil Smart and he is loving his time at the club so far.
“I think the whole football club is in a good place at the minute”
“Eric the Academy Manager has done a good job and we’ve got a great little team there at the Academy. We all get on well, all thrive off each other, all want to get the best out of each other, so it’s perfect really.
“I’m working with the Under-9s all the way up to Cameron Gregory who’s obviously been on the bench a few times, which is great. Adapting to different age-groups is a bit of a challenge, but you don’t mind that as a coach and coaching the Under-9s is just as enjoyable as the Under-18s.”
Roberts has only been with the club for a few months, but already he is seeing big improvements being made by the young shot stoppers.
“I’m very excited by the potential”, Connor.
“The first-team will obviously have the final say, but I have noticed a massive improvement in Cameron Gregory. Jack Atkinson, our first year scholar, has improved a hell of a lot over the last six months as well.
“Cam has had great experience by being on the bench with the first-team and deservedly so I think. He’s been brilliant in the Under-18s games, shown real maturity and a real high standard of play. All across the board we’ve got a strong team of goalkeepers, so long may that continue.”
Shrewsbury has long had a reputation of producing good goalkeepers and Connor is hoping to replicate that in the future.
“Obviously, Joe Hart came from Shrewsbury”, said Roberts.
“I was actually at Everton with Mason Springthorpe who also came from Shrewsbury and then you had Harry Lewis who obviously went to Southampton and is doing really well now, so there’s a bit of pressure on but you don’t mind that as a coach and hopefully these kids can move onto bigger clubs.”