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Club News


24 April 2015

United's Academy Manager Tony Daws was delighted to see Levi Sutton offered a professional contract this week.

Sutton joins Kyle Wootton in graduating from the Iron's academy this season, and Daws is proud to see the club's youth set-up continue to go from strength-to-strength.

"All of the staff are really pleased to see Levi offered a professional contract," said Daws.

"Along with Kyle being offered a professional contract in October, Levi has progressed to the professional ranks from the current group of nine second year apprentices at the club.

"On top of that, another player who was part of this year group was striker Charles Vernam.

"Charles was sold to Derby County two years ago as an under 16 player and he has since signed as a professional player at the Championship club.

"So in total that is three players out of the age group signing professional contracts.

"As an Academy our objective is to take these players at school leaving age and accelerate their learning and game understanding in two seasons. We try to develop them to the level required to become a professional player and so we're really pleased because this season's main objective has been achieved."

Daws was proud to see Hakeeb Adelakun provide the cross for Wootton to score his first professional goal in stoppage time of last week's vital 1-1 home draw with Port Vale.

"It was great to see, and Kyle has been getting some really good amounts of game time in the first team," added the Academy Manager.

"The Manager, Mark Robins, has been terrific as he has shown real faith and confidence in Kyle - for instance starting him up front in a tough away game at Rochdale and by bringing him on as a substitute in numerous games.

"Kyle now has his first Football League goal, and we're really proud of that as an academy. We also have to thank Mark for having the confidence and courage to put Kyle in the first team.

"Sadly, Levi broke his leg in training last week, hopefully he can recover from the injury and push on next season.

"It certainly won't hold him back because Levi has an excellent work ethic and attitude and everyone at the Club wishes him a full and speedy recovery."

Talking about the overall picture, Daws added: "Each season, we sign a number of players on to the apprenticeship programme so, out of the nine that started two years ago, two have earned a professional deal at the club.

"When you consider the national figures for the progression of players from apprentice to professional, the fall-out and failure rate is around 95/96 per cent.

"We've got two boys through out of a group of nine, that's an achievement in real terms - and one we can be proud of.

"While it's good for the youth team to finish as high up in the league as we can, that's not the primary focus at the start of each season. Our number one objective at under 18 youth team level is to get players through to professional status.

"When boys come on the two-year apprenticeship programme as a school leaver, it can almost be related to them entering and then running the Grand National. There are numerous fences, hurdles and challenges that the boy's face on a daily basis and not all of the riders are certain to reach the finishing line. 

"With a formal college education programme that includes a BTEC Level 3, an NVQ in sport and also the FA coaching license level 2 to complete on top of the football element of the programme, it's a lot for the boys to cope with over the 2 seasons and not all of them make the grade.

"At the start of the journey two years ago, we knew that not all nine boys would come through. It's totally unrealistic to expect that. We're pleased to get two through and hopefully we can continue that next season.

"It's only the second years each season who are up for a contract decision. The first years move forward into the second year of their scholarship programme so the first years remain with us and are currently training with us at the Academy on a daily basis. Hopefully out of the current group of first years there maybe one or two who might come through this time next year.

"it's always a sad time when youth players have to be released at the end of their apprenticeship. For one reason or another they don't always develop to the extremely high level required to become a professional player, whether that's for technical, tactical, physical, psychological or social reasons.

"One thing for certain is that we wish all of the boys the best of luck and we will support them at this moment in time, and also offer them support moving forward as well.

"The League Football Education offers the Football League Exit Trials in the early part of May, and there is the opportunity for the boys to try and get fixed up at other clubs.

"A couple of boys have done really well in terms of their education, and one of the boys has five university offers - which is fantastic and an achievement in itself.

"Education is vital because if the football doesn't work out at least there are education opportunities elsewhere, and we are proud of our 100 per cent success rate each season in terms of the boys passing all education aspects of the 2 year course.

"We would like to wish Taron Hare, Reece Mosanya, Emilio Oliver-Stothard, Jacob Hood, Jack Mawson, Patrick Weaver and Connor Purdue good luck for their future."

Daws finished by adding: "I would like to thank all of the academy coaching staff full and part time who have had an input in to both Kyle and Levi's development since the boys joined us almost 10 years ago, and particularly thanks to my colleague Paul Harsley, who has worked hard and worked closely with myself and all of the boys over the course of their two year apprenticeship.

"It is important to thank the Manager Mark Robins and the rest of the 1st Team coaching staff including Ned Kelly, Nick Daws and Andy Dawson for their input in to the boys development this season."

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