AFC Telford bidding to launch an under-23s team
AFC Telford United are looking to build on their FA Youth Cup exploits by creating an under-23s side.
Declan Allen’s young Bucks did the club proud by reaching the first round of the competition before bowing out with a 6-1 defeat at Scunthorpe United on Wednesday.
And football operations manager Luke Shelley is determined to avoid any potential first teamers from the under-18s slipping through the net.
“We’re exploring the option of an under-23s team as we need to establish a link between the under-18s and the first team,” he said.
“These are such a good group of players who have done so well so we’d be foolish to lose them.
“Going straight into the first team in National League North at 17 or 18 is a big ask, so we need an under-23s team to bridge that gap.
“It would also help get those who aren’t playing every week for the first team some game time and keep them sharp, so it’s something we’re actively looking at.”
Five of the under-18s – Jack Downing, Joseff Pratt, Lee Kenny, Harry Walker and Reece Taylor – have trained with Gavin Cowan’s squad recently.
Striker Downing has recently been featuring for Stourport Swifts under dual registration and impressed in the Midland Premier, scoring seven goals, while centre-half Walker played against Aston Villa in pre-season.
Shelley, whose previous job title was head of youth, added: “Year on year, our youth section is improving so we want something at the end of it, to keep these players developing with us rather than a lot of them leaving once they’re done with the under-18s.
“We have spoken to other clubs to discuss what the standard of football is like and there a few options for us in terms of leagues.
“Obviously there’s finances involved and we’re looking at that, anything that could be done to fund the team in terms of sponsorship.
“We are hoping to have something finalised in the new year.”
Telford made it to Glanford Park after beating Boldmere St Michaels, Evesham United, Stourbridge and Rugby Town.
The club say it is the most successful run they have had in the Youth Cup since the 1970s.