Coach reflects on promising start
Jerry Gill is confident increased competition for places can help Wolves Academy Under-18s continue to build their early-season momentum ahead of Saturday’s visit to face Stoke City.
The Under-18s followed up an impressive opening day win against Sunderland by battling back to earn a point away at Middlesbrough on Saturday.
And with other players due to come back into the ranks from injury in the coming weeks, Gill is hopeful that Wolves will be able to maintain these early season standards.
“It was a very good point for us at Middlesbrough,” said the coach.
“We knew Middlesbrough would be loaded up with second year scholars and that was the case and our lads put in another really good performance.
“To go away from home and pick up a point is always good, and it keeps our unbeaten run going and builds up a bit of momentum.
“The pleasing thing as well is that there were some impressive individual performances within the team.
“Some players are finding good form and finding a rhythm in games.
“Austin Samuels scored again as a an Under-16 and also with a header, which he doesn’t get too many of.
“It was a great finish back across the keeper from a good delivery from Brad Carr.
“Austin just has to keep working hard to keep that level – scoring goals alone won’t do that but his attitude, application and workrate will.
“Competition for places is looking good now as we have Jordan Allan back in the group after injury.
“And that is a challenge to Austin who has done very well as a number 9.
“Josh Hesson also came into the group on Saturday and Adam Osbourne isn’t too far away.
“Competition for places bodes well and it will be interesting to see how they all handle it.
“In recent weeks the starting 16 has picked itself, but now there is competition and it is all about what players do to keep their place or, if they lose it, what they do to win it back.”
Gill is also looking for more complete performances in the coming weeks, turning the promise of the first two games into something more sustained.
“The first half at Middlesbrough was a really tight affair,” he said.
“The phase one stuff was good but we didn’t quite get going in the final third.
“We went a bit longer in the second half but still with quality, looking to go in behind and get the ball down the sides.
“That had a bit more of an affect on the game and we had more efforts on goal with Austin getting a deserved equaliser.
“There were some good signs, and the group showed a good mentality.
“We went behind for the second successive game, but again hit back, and having that reaction bodes well for the future.
“It is still really early days and there is lots to work on, and we are still looking for that complete 90 minutes performance.”
More England recognition has followed for some of Wolves’ young players with Niall Ennis selected for the next England Under-18 squad and Samuels and Morgan Gibbs-White linking up with the Under-17s at St George’s Park this week.
“It is great news for us to see those lads being selected by England and is also fully deserved,” added Gill.