As the end of the season is with us, I felt it appropriate to have a look at some of the younger players who could make an impact and push on in the new season. We have seen the Reserves perform well and take the Barclays Premier Reserve League North title before being beaten in the national final by Chelsea on penalties, which suggests we have some handy players waiting in the wings for opportunities to push on to first-team football.
With much help from Parsonblue, here are my tips for players to look out for next season. Of course, I could be wrong and no doubt come this time next year, some will have fallen by the wayside. But some will have pushed on and yet other new players will have emerged.
A season ago I really rated right full-back Jackson Ramm, but he hasn't pushed on as much as I thought he would. Indeed, in the final against Chelsea, Welsh under-19 full-back Adam Henley was preferred to Ramm despite his favoured position being left full-back. Henley is quick, gets forward well, can tackle and looks like he is one to really look out for next season.
The performance of Micah Evans against Manchester City Reserves at Hyde a couple of months back was outstanding. He showed pace and power and was clearly motivated against his former club. However, like so many in the Academy and Reserves, consistency has been a problem. He seems to be being groomed for a wide position and next season is a big one for him as he has to establish himself as a regular with the Reserves. He certainly hasn't caught the eye like Olsson did when he was with the Reserves, but, then again, both Jemal Johnson and Sergio Peter looked outstanding at that level and look what happened to them.
Others who have caught the eye this season include forward Osayamen Osawe, who first came to the fore as a 16-year-old, making the youth team and coming off the bench to score in his first game, centre-back Matthew Pearson and Irish midfielder John O'Sullivan.
It does indeed appear as though there is quite a bit of optimism and talent within our academy at the moment and credit must go to Academy manager Phil Cannon and his team, who are obviously allowing these players not only to develop, but progress through to the reserve team and hopefully they will follow the likes of Jones, Hanley, Lowe, Gunning and Morris, who all look to have decent futures in the game.
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