Emley AFC boss Richard Tracey is excited about the up and coming young players at the club and has promoted a trio of talented under-23s to the first team squad.

Strikers George Doyle and Jack Bennett and winger Lennon O’Grady have completed the pathway from academy to first team and will now train and play with Tracey’s senior side on a permanent basis.

On the three talents stepping up Tracey said: “All three players were involved in the friendlies we played following the curtailment of last season. All three have shown quality and energy since stepping up. They have shown a willingness to learn and also they will fit into our system and how we want to play. 

“The three boys have been a credit to Sam Sutton. He has done a great job in developing them into the players they are today. 

“We haven’t got the finances to bring all the players we’d like in. We want to give these lads a chance and to build something by developing our own players. 

“We’d be doing them a disservice by putting in too much inexperience too soon but we know the other lads – like Hayden Webster and Frasier Beckett – are ready to step up when the opportunity arises. We’ll certainly look to the U23s when the inevitable injuries, suspensions and other absences crop up. Many will get their chance.”

Club chairman Andrew Painten is very passionate about the academy at the club and told Emley’s website: “We don’t have a bottomless pit of money or a sugar daddy to plough money in, and we don’t want it either. But to grow a club that’s sustainable on its own terms in the long-term, we need the academy to keep doing the job its done in the last year into next year and the years to come.

“If it can develop and prepare three first team players each season, we’ll be more than happy. So far so good and we’ll continue to back Sam and the team.”

The club is not just investing its time at under-23 level but also at under-18 level. The Pewits have brought in Dom Webster to manage that side. 

Painten added: “Dom’s job is to attract and recruit the best local talent including from our partnerships with Yorkshire RTC, Thornes Juniors and Shepley FC and get those lads ready for the U23s and beyond. It’s early days but the first indications are there is a very bright future ahead for the academy and, with it, Emley AFC as a whole.”

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Meanwhile for Doyle, Bennett and O’Grady the next chapter begins. 

On moving up to the first team, Doyle said: “I feel I have progressed massively as a player through the U23s, which is credit to the coaching staff and my teammates. Credit must also go to the club for their forward thinking attitude and investing in a youth policy.”

Bennett added: “I am very happy to have joined the first team. My progression over the last 12 months has been really good and hard work always pays off but the U23s programme also gave me a great platform to show my ability in front of a lot of people.”

O’Grady said: “I was given the chance to show what I was about with the first team competing in friendlies with great feedback. Now with the consistency I’ve been offered to stay with the first team. I can’t thank the U23s lads enough and coaches Sam, Pete and Ovey for helping me along the way to get where I am.”

Emley believe in nurturing young talent. Pictures by: MARK PARSONS

While U23 boss Sam Sutton is sad to see the three players move on, he insists it’s brilliant to see them progress with Emley as a club. 

He said: “As an academy set up we’re delighted to see Jack, George and Lennon progress to become permanent first team players. This is exactly what we aimed to do when we began working 12 months ago.

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“Their progress is testament to the commitment and dedication they have shown towards their football last season playing a big part in our U23 Cup success. 

“It should inspire those still within our ranks that the pathway is there for players who do well. I look forward to following their progress this season, and hopefully we will see more make the step up in the future.”