7. The Class of 2018

Youth Intake day is undoubtedly my favourite day of the whole Football Manager year – the day on which the future of my club plops itself on my doorstep, and I have to decide the best way to go about developing them, and deciding which players I pick up, and which players I don’t.

In the past, I was indiscriminate – signing every single youth player who trudged through the gates on youth intake day. However, now, I am aware that if I stock up on youngsters at this point, all its going to do is put a strain on my coaching staff, and stifle the development of the players who truly do have a shot at making it at the club.

To that end, I have signed 4 of our youth intake to Professional deals, pinpointing the 4 players who I think have the best chance of forging a future with the club.

Billy Yates – Central Defender

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Billy has all the makings of a solid defender – good in the air, and with strong positioning and decision-making. I do have concerns about some areas of his game, namely his physicality and jumping reach, however with several years of development ahead of him, i’m hopeful we can shape him into a future star in defence.

Craig Laycock – Striker

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I’m not sure exactly what it is that draws me to Laycock: he is determined, but also lazy. He has good finishing, but doesn’t seem to excel in any other technical aspect. However, my assistant manager seems to rate him, so we’ll see how he gets on with some hard work and a bit of faith.

Cal Prydderch – Central Defender

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Another defender with a solid base to build from, Prydderch has work to do on his physicality and technical ability, however his high determination gives me hope for his future, and I like that he has a bit of pace about him.

Ellis Vernon – Midfielder

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Ellis doesn’t immediately jump off the page as a top prospect, however his fitness and physical attributes, along with a strong work ethic, give me hope that he can be moulded into a good midfielder.

I’m aware that each of these four prospects are very much rough diamonds, and highlight to me the work that I still have to do around our youth and coaching setups at the club. I’ve turned to the board to ask for youth setup upgrades, and I’ll be doing a lot of work over the summer in terms of developing our coaching staff and putting us in the strongest possible position to help these youngsters fulfil their potential.

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