Plymouth Argyle Academy Manager Kevin Hodges was delighted that six of his second year apprentices have been given a great opportunity to progress in the professional game.
Jordan Bentley, Alex Fletcher and Callum Rose have all been offered one year professional contracts while Alex Battle, Dan Rooney and Aaron Taylor have been offered ‘Development Deals.’This is still an offer of a professional contract however the players will train with the first team once a week as opposed to every day. Our manager has spoken to them in detail on where he wants to see improvement in order for them to make the next step up.
“The lads have worked very hard and we’ve been rewarded with six of our players being given another year at the club and it’s now down to them to make the most of this opportunity; they’ve done so well to get where they are and now it starts again,” said Hodges.
“The players who are up with the first team will find it a lot different next season with the higher intensity of sessions and with the demands in general being even greater. Those of us working with the development group have got to try and get our sessions up to these higher levels and intensity so that the gap becomes a little bit smaller,” he explained.
The Academy boss was under no illusions that the youngsters will have to up their game and show the desire to succeed under the gaze of manager Derek Adams and his staff.
“We must not underestimate that the three that have gone with the first team will find that the manager’s standards are very, very high and for him to take three left us absolutely delighted.
“We mustn’t forget that, after promotion, they are going to be League One footballers next season and standards have to go up another level again; which in turn will be good for us all.”
With the Academy involved in both the South West Peninsula and the EFL Youth Alliance Leagues it has been a testing season for all involved with several of the lads playing more than 50 league games and that doesn’t take into account the pre-season games.
“This is where the opportunities arise for our players as they get seen by the manager and his staff as well as the Academy staff they are judged on what they do on the field of play as well as in day to day training, ” said Hodges.
“They’ve had plenty of opportunity this last year as there has been a lot of football for them whereas in the not too distant past this was not always the case.
“In previous years, some of our first year professionals especially, have suffered through lack of games but we are certainly mading amends for that now.”
The apprentices will be rounding up their season this coming week as they have College on Wednesday plus their fitness tests before they start their summer break.
They have also been invited to tomorrow’s promotion celebration, following this they can look forward to some down time before reporting back again at the end of June. Again they will undergo fitness testing to make sure they are returning in good physical condition.
The Argyle youngsters followed up the Oakham Festival with another trip, this time to Swindon under the control of Phil Stokes and James Bradley.
This was a successful trip for the under-9 and 10s in a tournament that had a total of 20 clubs taking part with the competition including premiership opposition such as Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion.
The young Pilgrims were placed in group A along with Coventry, Aston Villa, Southampton and Reading with the latter going on to win the competition.
Academy coach Bradley was impressed with the standard of football shown by Argyle’s players saying “Throughout the day the players improved during each game and we had really competitive matches against different teams from outside our games programme.”
After the group stages, the Pilgrims qualified for the plate competition and eventually went on to win the trophy which they proudly brought back to Home Park with them.
Hodges is delighted with the standards that the youngsters have experienced in these festivals adding “We have played against some really good teams and this has given our boys some great exposure.”
Congratulations to Alex Fletcher who also scooped the Richard Phillips Apprentice of the Year Award which is voted for by the under-18s players and staff.