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Academy update from Ciaran Donnelly

3 September 2018

Fleetwood Town’s Academy has been full of good news in recent weeks with 16-year-old James Hill making his senior debut for the club in their Carabao Cup tie at Premier League side Leicester City.

The academy has seen young goalkeeper, Billy Crellin be called up to the England U19s squad, with that coming on the back of his World Cup win with the England U17s last year, and his call-up to the U19s during Town's pre-season tour to Hungary.

Nathan Sheron became the first player from the new Category Three academy to make a league appearance for the first team in their 2-0 victory away at Oxford United. This news; along with the above has shown that the hard work behind the scenes are being rewarded.

Here are the best quotes from Ciaran’s interview:

On recent success of the Academy…

“From the moment we came in from pre-season it has been excellent. We’ve been away to Scotland, and went completed a number of team building exercises. We’ve found out a lot about the players, about what makes them tick, and what kind of players we’ve got.

“As an academy, we have so much to look forward to here. We are going in the right direction and are pleased with the way things are going. We got a fantastic audit from the Premier League last season after they audited our academy, where we were rated amongst the top category three academies in the country. So, we’ve got lots to be positive about, we know we’ve got a lot of work to do but there is certainly a buzz around the place at the moment.”

“Over the course of the last year, I was able to implement things that I wanted to do, things that I felt would benefit the academy, and benefit the club in the long term. That has now taken shape, the staffing structure has taken shape with the personnel that I want in place.

On James Hill’s first team cameo…

“It really was a proud moment. We were absolutely buzzing when he came on and were really pleased for James. The job now is to keep him grounded and realise that the hard work is still yet to be done.

“He’s had a reward for the great progress he has made. A big thing for us is the sign that it sends to the rest of the academy. Four months ago, James was outside on a Wednesday night, Friday night and Monday night training with the rest of the academy and the Under 16s.

“The Under 9s and Under 10s have seen him come through and now they are seeing that the same boy has made his debut in the cup at the King Power Stadium against Leicester, a team full of internationals, and he held his own for 20 minutes.

“The head coach has come in and said that he would give young players a chance if they deserve it and he has honoured that to this point. From our point of view, it is making our job a lot easier, and a lot better, and we can sell the club in more ways going forward.”​

Donnelly on Nathan Sheron’s break through…

 “He has developed through the Under 18s and the Under 23s and due to that we are chuffed to see where he is at this moment in time. We can’t speak highly enough of him as a person and as a professional, because he has a great attitude.

“We think he will go and have a good career in the game, but he knows there’s a lot of work to be done to cement a place as a regular in the first team, which is a competitive one that is looking to do well this season in League One.

“It is a very proud moment for the academy and something we can look on and say that there are some good work going on and the job is to continue that hard work. At the end of the day, we want to become the club that everybody looks at in England, Europe and in the world as a hot bed for an academy producing talented footballers.”

On Billy Crellin’s England U19 call-up…

“It is another huge achievement for Billy being called up again and we are really chuffed for him. He is currently getting his first taste of men’s football at FC United of Manchester, and that will keep him in good stead to be a top goalkeeper.

“We can’t really explain the meteoric rise of Billy from grassroots football to an England international in such a short space of time. It has been a freak in some respects but he is one, like the others who has that great attitude.

“With James Hill, Dylan Boyle, Billy Crellin, they are level headed boys and it’s no coincidence that they are the ones who are performing and are going through the system.”

You can watch the full interview on our official iFollow page.


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