Four AFC Academy players sign first-team deals
Mark Morsley’s mantra since taking the AFC Sudbury hotseat has been about giving youth a chance to flourish — and now he has backed that up by signing on four academy players to next season’s first-team squad.
Ben Hunter, Tom Dettmar, Kane Munday and Milo Grimes, who are all 18 and set to graduate from the two-year academy diploma programme next month, have been chosen as the foundation of youth Morsley wants to use to build a promotion-winning side around.
The former Needham Market boss, who has blooded a large number of academy players in the hope of uncovering talent from within for next season’s promotion push, said: “They will be part of the first-team squad next season and we feel they all have the potential to be an integral part of the club for the long-term.
“We have looked at a number of second years, obviously some are going to the States, but these four have done very well.
“There are other players who have done well but for a number of reasons are not ones we feel are ready for the step up with us just yet.”
He added some academy players will be invited to return to training with them when pre-season gets under way and the club will be looking to offer academy goalkeeper Luca Collins a deal if Colchester United, where he is currently on trial, do not take him on permanently.
“He has had three games in the first team and I could not fault him,” said Morsley, who played Collins ahead of the returning Paul Walker, whose ankle was not 100 per cent but could have played if needed, in Saturday’s season-ending 1-0 home win over Grays Athletic.
“Certainly if Colchester do not come in we will be looking to offer something with our club.
“Walks signed his three-year contract Saturday but you cannot have just one goalkeeper.
“We would need to find a situation that suits him at the football club and we are working on that.”
He also revealed recruitment from outside of the club is well under way, having already held talks with ‘about eight or nine’ players in the last week.
With the Yellows having finished the season bang in mid-table (12th), Morsley said: “It is about right. We are a mid-table side.
“I think we were very ambitious this season, in terms of our selections, where we were working on a blueprint put together with the academy.
“When I came in (October) we were in a relegation situation, albeit one Danny (Laws, head of academy) had arrested a bit.
“I am happy with the situation. We clearly know there is work to be done and that we need more experienced players in there, but also we have a great deal of potential in the building already.”
He added: “Finishing mid-table means we have not had any dramas at either end of the table and had an opportunity to play a lot of young lads, which is nearly unheard of at this level of non-league football.”
On Saturday, Morsley selected a fairly familiar side that included two players playing the final games for the club, at the moment; Ollie Peters and Joe Wright, as they set off for new lifestyle changes in America.
Their was an end-of-term feel to the game, which remained goalless at the break despite Gray’s Dennis Oli heading against the post and Sam Mills having to clear over his own crossbar.
But the decisive moment arrived 12 minutes from time when Phil Kelly headed in Daryl Coakley’s corner to ensure AFC ended the season with three points on a day which saw Collins make his home debut in goal.
Kelly ends the season with eight goals from his 16 games, but Adam Mills who left the club in October after Morsley arrived, ends the season as the club’s top scorer with nine.
Free Press Man of the Match: Callum Harrison. Good in midfield and getting forward.