We all know that football is a squad game, especially during a league campaign, and that’s never been more evident than the past few matches where Paul Groves has promoted the likes of Alex Avenell and Joe Jeremiah into the First Team squad. City’s Under 21s have all been registered to play in the National League North and assigned squad numbers for exactly this eventuality, and Manager Craig Robinson believes it’s paying dividends:
“The experience and exposure has been brilliant for Alex and Joe. To be in the dressing room everyday with the likes of Jake Cole, Fabien Robert, Bernard Mensah etc is invaluable.”
“When I spoke to the Gaffer at the end of last season, I asked how many players progressing to the first team would make a successful Under 21s season. His reply: one. Whilst that doesn't sound very ambitious, the Gaffer knows the level very well. We've already seen two players integrated into the match day squads in recent weeks. The players are under no illusions of the task ahead, and my job is make sure the players are ready whenever the opportunity arises.”
Robinson, now in his seventh season with the club, says there has also been a knock on effect for the Under-18s squad who have found opportunities:
“We have had Under 18s players involved with us since the beginning of pre season. I think it's important to reward players for working hard, training and playing well. I know the Under 18s squad having worked at that age group for three seasons. We have players in training weekly, a couple have come off the bench and had minutes during the season already.”
“Recruitment has been really refreshing and exciting. To create a team from scratch is unique! We've had players in on trial from Manchester, Birmingham and so on. That said, there is an abundance of talent on our door step, we want to give local players an opportunity to progress and make a career.”
“My football 'career' didn't really get going into the men's game due to injury. However, I enjoyed my time playing youth football. I played regularly at district and county level which led to a trial at Birmingham City. My dad was a UEFA B licensed Coach, so I've always observed and learnt both sides of the game.”
Gloucester City Under 21s are in action at New Meadow Park this morning (18th September) at 10am versus Redditch Borough in the Midland Floodlit Youth League.