Rovers’ draw with Liverpool on Monday evening means Manchester City are champions of the PL2 Division One, but all involved with the academy deserve all the praise and credit they receive.
To even be in the mix with the likes of the major Premier League clubs is an achievement in itself, but the progression of the team and the players has been nothing short of impressive.
Lenni Rae Cirino and Dan Pike both played for the U18s last season and look more than comfortable making the step up to the PL2. Jake Garrett and Jared Harlock look comfortable in the middle, and Sam Burns and Connor McBride have both led the line well. I genuinely could single each member of the team out for praise, this team truly is that promising.
There’s so many factors that further highlight the job Stuart Jones, Billy Barr, Mike Sheron, Tony Carss and the rest of the staff have done over the last couple of years. From the number of talents that are now in the senior side to those who look comfortable playing against opposition sometimes four or five years older, the work at the academy is up there with the best in the country.
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The title chances would have been boosted massively had the likes of Harry Chapman, Joe Grayson and Brad Lyons remained in Lancashire, but it’s key to remember that the U23 and U18 sides are not all about results.
Of course, winning tournaments is always nice, but the player development is what truly matters. The sides containing Lewis Travis, Joe Rankin-Costello and Ryan Nyambe didn’t have as good of a season as the current bunch, and they turned out just fine.
The football the current side play is a pleasure to watch, and the technical ability throughout the squad stands them in a good position for their careers – whether that is ultimately with Rovers or not.
The team is full of talent and I highly recommend fans to come down to Leyland when the authorities allow, or to even follow closely from home. There’s a lot of potential here, and the future is bright with our current young Blue and Whites.
Follow our account dedicated to Rovers’ U23 and U18 sides. All the latest updates, news and match content will be posted there before anywhere else so make sure you’re following: @academy_rovers.