Coach to offer opportunities over remainder of season
Wolves Under 18 Head Coach Jerry Gill is keen to continue to give the Academy’s younger players vital game time despite last Saturday’s heavy defeat to Leicester City.
Goals from Joe Delacoe and Morgan Gibbs-White saw Wolves race into a two-goal first half lead, before the Foxes completed a resounding comeback to emerge 7-2 winners.
But, despite the result, Gill believes his young side will have learned a lot from the experience.
He said: “We’re not too concerned about it, we had a plan going into the game and it’s a bigger picture for us really.
“It was a lot younger group on Saturday and even though it’s important that we try and win games, it was more about giving some players that haven’t had much game time and also some of the [Under] 16’s an opportunity to perform and looking ahead to next season.
“The fact that we’ve been able to offer contracts to the second years, and some of them are playing up [with the Under 21’s] and some of them are out injured has allowed us to do that.
“So we’re disappointed with the result, we always are when we lose games, but the bigger picture for us is that these boys are getting exposure of game time in the Under 18’s.”
Some of those to benefit from the exposure include first year scholars Jordan Allan, Sam Phillips and Nyeko Sinclair, as well as both Gibbs-White and Brad Carr who have spent the majority of this season playing for the club’s Under 16 squad.
And given their impressive performances, Gill confirmed that players from that age group will continue to feature between now and the end of the season.
He said: “A lot of these boys have been training with us anyway, and it’s important we do that.
“On a weekly basis they’ll get exposure to the Under 18’s training and some of ours will go and train with the Under 21’s which is what’s happening as well with the likes of Danny Armstrong, Connor Ronan and Bright Enobakhare who’ve left us, which is important, and that gives the others an opportunity to train with us and we pick them for a Saturday and they show us what they can do.
“Morgan Gibbs-White was outstanding on Saturday, he played as a number eight though he’s normally a number 10, he played as an eight, 10 and ended up as a number four.
“He rotated really well [between positions], and had a really good attitude and desire about his game, he was really effective and scored a good goal as well, so it was really pleasing that one.
“Brad Carr came on as a young Under 16 and had a good 35 to 40 minutes in the game after coming on as an under 16 having played the first half for them [Under 16’s].
“And that’s something we can take out of the game, that’s really positive for next season.”
Another good sign for the 2016/17 campaign is the eight second year scholars who will progress into Scott Sellars’ Under 21 team.
The high number of contracts awarded to scholars is a reflection of the Under 18’s season to date, one which saw Gill’s men reach the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup and finish in 7th place in the Barclays Under 18 Premier League, Northern Section. Quite rightly the players can be proud of their efforts.
Gill said: “We’ve got eight of the 11 second years, who’ve signed pro contracts now, which is a really good return.
“Five were done recently and three were already done that we knew about.
“We’re really pleased to have got that done in the first year I have been here and there’s a lot of hard work that’s gone on to make sure these boys have got to where we want to get them to, and prior to when I turned up.
“We’ve had a really good season, individually they’ve deserved those contracts, they’ve earned it.
“We don’t give it to them, it’s not the coaches, it’s the player that gives them that, that’s really important and it makes sure the group for Scott next year has got continuity, they’ve had exposure again in the 21’s and that’s good.”
With the players’ contractual decisions settled for another season the focus is now back on the final stage of campaign.
Thanks to the 7th placed league finish Gill’s men have entered into group two of the ‘playoffs stage’, where they will face fellow north section teams Middlesbrough, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion along with southern section teams Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Tottenham Hotspur.
With these fixtures representing new challenges, Gill is keen for his team to embrace them.
He said: “There are different philosophies within those clubs, at Tottenham and Arsenal the training facilities are great and it’s a good environment to go into, and they all bring something different.
“There are different challenges for the players and for coaches as well - for me to come up against different types of philosophies is great but we don’t look at it too much and emphasise too much on results between now and the end of the season.
“We want to win every game we possibly can by doing it in the right way, but it’s now focusing around the young group if you like and trying to get them in position for next season as well.
“We will still do the right things and prepare the right way, but it just might mean at times we’ll suffer in some results because of the way we want to go out with our game plan and it’s important that we’re focusing on their development rather than the result too much.”
The Under 18’s are next in action tomorrow (Saturday), when they travel to Black Country rivals West Brom.
The teams have met twice already this season, holding a victory apiece. Wolves won the first clash 3-1 at the Sir Jack Hayward training ground in September, while the Baggies edged the return fixture 3-2 just before Christmas.
Saturday’s match will be a new experience for several members of the squad, and one that could prove vital in the months and seasons to come.
“For West Brom there is an added spice within it because it’s a local derby and they always make it a local derby and we will as well.” Gill said.
“It will be a different challenge for the players, some of the younger ones haven’t probably played in such a feisty, spicy sort of game and it’s important that they control their emotions and they deal with that.
“I’m really looking forward to that challenge for the younger ones, the older players know about it so let’s see how the younger players deal with it.
“We can win the game and I want to win the game but the performance levels, the attitude of the players are paramount within that and that’s the challenge they will face on Saturday.”