Academy goalkeeping coach, Aled Williams, looks back on how the season went for the Wolves Academy goalkeepers.
I’m really, really pleased for Harry. He didn't really know where he was at, at the start of the season following the managerial changes. We sat him down and told him that he had to control what he could control - we told him to work hard every day. Myself and the rest of the Under 23s staff looked at how he handled disappointments, looked at building up play a but more and getting his feet going and we just put him under pressure a bit more as well so he could handle that environment. Fortunately for him, he got called up for the Fulham game, which was very well deserved at the time as well - his performance justified that he should be in that environment. He then went on to play against Cardiff on the Tuesday - he was excellent in that game, and then about a month later he played against Liverpool at Anfield in front of 59,000 which was a great experience for him. After that, he came back to play for the ‘23s and played at Telford in front of 153 - his attitude was excellent in all games that he was involved in. He’s shown that elite mindset that he’s there to play football and he’s there to win football games and be the best he can be. I’m very pleased for him - he’s just had a call up to the England Under 21 training camp as well, so it’s been a very successful season for him.
He came in as the new boy, and we’ve always had the tradition of producing goalkeepers to the top level. We brought him in, we worked on a lot of communication with him, building up play in and out of possession. During the last six games, he’s really come on - I’m really pleased for him again as one of his targets was to be called up to the Scotland Under 21s squad, which he achieved and played against Slovenia and I think during the last five or six games, he’s been excellent. He’s coming along leaps and bounds - he’s just waiting to see whether he’ll be called up to the Toulan tournament in France with Scotland, fingers crossed he gets the call for that.
He’s only 19 years of age, he’s only at the end of his first year with the Under 23s - we worked on a lot with him off the pitch and Scott Sellars and I have worked with him on the pitch as well and he’s really gone on and produced for us. Hopefully now, we can keep him kicking on and then he’s the next one to move up which is our job - we want them to get into that first team, not necessarily as quick as possible, but to get them up there when they're ready to deal with that pressure and put a performance in for the team.
Footballing-wise, Rory’s had an excellent season - there have been so many achievements for him, for a boy of 16 years old. He went from third choice to second choice in the space of an hour and featured on the bench for the first team. He’s a first year scholar and he's been starting all of the games for the Under 18s. He had a proud moment as he represented Northern Ireland Under 19s as the age of 16 as well, so it’s been a really good season for him. We’ve just got to keep him kicking on now and give him the challenges and get the question asked of ‘who’s the next one after Jack?’, is it Rory? Or does Rory go ahead of Jack? As a goalkeeper, you’ve got to be relentless and think of yourself - it will be a good battle between them.
Rory played in the semi-final of the Birmingham Senior Cup, away at Sutton Coldfield for the Under 23s - that was an excellent challenge for him. He has the fans behind the goal on at him all game - it’s all about learning to deal with pressure at the top level and at 16 years old, he’s played in a men’s football game there and he didn't look out of place. He had a lot of crowd shouting at him for most of the game and I thought he dealt with it really well. Again, in the penalty shootout, he came up on top for us.
Harry Beasley has had a bit of an up and down season but the last five weeks, he’s been excellent. It’s always hard being number two in the ‘18s but his attitude’s been exemplary and he’s really pushing Rory and he was rewarded with a start against Brighton. He’ll be a first year pro next year and his job is to go and push Jack Ruddy. He’s finished off the season really well and just needs to push on next year.
Jackson Smith is 15 years old - he made his Under 18 debut this year in which I thought he was man of the match in. He’s come along leaps and bounds as the starting goalkeeper for the Under 16s. He’s one to keep an eye on - he trains a lot with the ‘23s and the ‘18s.
We’ve got Joe Young just below that who’s 14 years old - he’s played a lot of ‘16s football this year and he was actually in one of the England training camps at the start of the year as well. They're both goalkeepers that we think really high of.
From a goalkeeping department’s point of view, it’s been an excellent season. It’s not just the work we do as goalkeepers, it’s what we do as staff here at Wolves. The goalkeeper staff live and breathe the goalkeeping philosophy which I put in place and Pat Mountain’s support has been immense through it all. He’s always asking who the next one is and then the outfield coaches buy into it as well. Scott Sellars has been excellent - we look at what the goalkeepers need and he’ll help as much as he can as well. It’s a massive testament to the staff at the club and that’s why we’ve got a succession of goalkeepers coming through.