Coventry City’s academy seems to have a knack when it comes to producing good quality young talents. You only have to look at players like Gael Bigirimana, Daniel Sturridge and Callum Wilson to realise the quality of youth players we produce.
Last season a large proportion of our squad was made up of homegrown players, and on one occasion nine academy graduates graced the field at once against Wycombe Wanderers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – something that brings great pride.
As the new season is on the horizon and supporters will soon be pleased to gain their dose of football, I thought I’d whet your appetite with a few prospects that I think could make an impact in the coming campaign…
Make no bones about it, we do need more experience in the side, but you can only get excited by these up and coming footballers.
I’ll start with a name that everybody knows in Coventry, and boy does this lad have potential! We saw during the 2014/15 season that the 18 year old can influence games, and his unerring ability on the ball is something that makes Sky Blues fans believe he can be a key player next term despite his tender age.
With various Premier League clubs being rumoured to be monitoring the midfielder, I just hope we can keep hold of him. I’m not usually a fan of throwing young players in there too early but in Maddison I see a player with class, a player with confidence, a player that has to start. With him in the side we’d create chances in abundance and he’d be a good bet to bag a fair few goals himself. Let’s hope he can establish himself and become a legend at the club – he has the making of one.
Another player who could establish himself as a first team regular next season is Wales Under 19 international George Thomas. He is another lad with huge potential and after clocking up seven appearances in the senior side last season, you can only see him improving on that next term.
Versatility is a characteristic that is associated with the player who can play across midfield or in a more advanced striker’s role. With bags of energy coupled with undoubted technical ability, Geoge will be eager to cement a starting berth in the first team and I back him to cause Tony Mowbray a few headaches when it comes to selection.
The under 21’s captain recently signed a fresh contract at the club and Mowbray has backed him to make a mark on the first team in the near future, and I envision that being this upcoming season. He’s a player that lives and breathes Coventry City and his passion for football stands him in very good stead, you only have to look at the fact he turned up to Ryton alone to start pre-season early – his attitude is exemplary.
It’s not only a good mindset that he possesses, he’s also a good footballer technically. We’ve lacked a tough tackling midfielder for years now though and he could fit that mould perfectly, although he has been deployed as a central defender for the u21 side. The lad idolises Roy Keane and I do think he’ll make an impact next season as he has similar makings to the former Manchester United man. His drive, desire and determination will take him far.
Another Wales youth international, the defender looks to have a very bright future in the game. Watching the under 21’s on numerous occasions last season allowed me to see potential future stars first hand, and Harries is a player I honestly believe can fill us with great hope.
He’s a ball playing defender and he makes many things look easy, and when he’s ready I’m sure he can push in to the first team. Captaining the under 18 side last season and being a regular within the under 21 setup has allowed him to progress, hopefully next season he can fight for a place in the senior squad.
This young lad is again a very bright prospect and he could well find himself in and around the first team after signing a professional contract with the club in the summer. He is another player with surreal technical ability and his passing range is something that excites me – he was a creative spark within the under 21 side when I saw them play.
A key player in the under 18’s side too, he has been exposed to a lot of football despite a few injury problems last season. Manager Jason Farndon said that he believes that the youngster “has the potential to be one of the best young centre-midfield players in the country.” Hopefully he continues to develop here and us supporters can see him in sky blue very soon.
Dion Kelly-Evans and Devon Kelly-Evans
It’s not very often that you have twins playing for the same football club, but at Coventry we have two very exciting talents in the Kelly-Evans brothers. Both have progressed through the ranks and they were rewarded with professional contracts at the end of the 2014/15 season.
Dion is a pacy full-back that works incredibly hard and has a very aggressive way of defending. He’s an extremely passionate player and this is displayed on the pitch, a very humble manner is also shown though off it and he knows a lot of hard work is needed to impress Mowbray.
Devon is a more attacking player that operates across the midfield, and like his brother, has grown up at the club. During last season he played in every position apart from goalkeeper for the under 18 and under 21 sides respectively, showing his versatility and desire. I saw him play versus Stevenage in pre-season last term and he was my man of the match that day…he’s another lad with masses of potential.
*I have not included Aaron Phillips, Ryan Haynes, Lee Burge etc as they have already had at least a season in and around the first team.