Congratulations to academy U16 players Conor Emery, Javanne Smith and Josh Turner who have been awarded academy scholarships, which come into effect from next season.
Midfielders Emery and Turner and striker Smith are the first to be handed scholarships from the U16s squad, with decisions being made on which of the remaining players will or will not receive theirs by December 31.
Lead coach for the development phase, Darren Molloy said: “We’re very happy with what we’ve seen and we want to take the pressure off them by letting them know.
“Both Conor and Josh have played for the youth team already this season and we expect Javanne to be involved in the near future, it’s brilliant news for them.”
The decision on whether or not a player is awarded a scholarship is not an easy one, with coaches from across the academy being involved.
“Everybody fulltime or anyone who has had any contact with the players is asked,” Molloy explained. “It’s always good to have more information rather than less.
“There is a collective decision made and players are discussed, the likes of Mark Smith (academy manager), Matt Whitehouse (head of academy coaching), Miguel Llera (lead coach for the professional development phase), and myself are involved in the process.”
Llera has seen some of the U16 squad up close, with several members having already trained with the youth team this season and Molloy says that the step up has worked well and will continue over the coming weeks.
He said: “The plan won’t change; we’ve tried to get as many training sessions together for all U16s with the youth team.
“We’ve tried to get them into as many positions as Miguel might need and I’ll push people up who I think can cope and do a job for him in those roles.
“They’ll get involved and be a part of a match day, whether they’re in the squad or not, it will give them the best chance to see what it’s like and hopefully put them on the front foot for when they start in a year’s time.”
Up to nine scholarships can be awarded, though Molloy admits that the final total will number either seven or eight. Meaning that there is still time for other members of the squad to stake their claim.
“My message to them is to get their heads down and work hard,” he said.
“They’ve got until the end of December where the decision will be made, just because they haven’t got something now doesn’t mean we’re potentially thinking about it.”
Meanwhile, Molloy gave praise to U15 striker Will Russ, who featured for Wales U16s in their 1-1 draw with Scotland in the Victory Shield last Tuesday.
Russ – who is the youngest player to have ever been offered a scholarship by the club – also scored on his Welsh debut in a match with Gibraltar earlier this season. Experiences that will benefit his development in the long-run.
Molley added: “It’s brilliant for the club, I’m delighted for Will and everyone else is.
“For him now, he needs to keep his head down, keep doing what he’s doing, enjoy the experiences and gather as much information and expertise as he can when he goes away - and I’m sure that when he comes back, he’ll put them into practice right away.”