Jimmy Bell has high hopes after taking over as Port Vale’s Under-21s boss. The experienced coach who has previously worked as assistant manager to John Coleman at Accrington Stanley and Rochdale, moved to Vale Park over the summer to take on the role.
And he is relishing the challenge of nurturing Vale’s young players through to the first-team.
“I’ve acquired a great set of young lads and my role is simply to develop them through the season,” said Bell.
“The aim is to get them into the first-team squad and I’m hoping that will happen for at least some this year.”
Bell, who helped take Accrington from the Northern Premier League to the Football League in a 12-year spell with the club, added:
“There’s a big difference between this squad and a reserves squad. These lads are all between 18 and 21, an age where a lot of players get lost.
“They come out of the youth team and perhaps haven’t yet matured physically or mentally enough to be ready for first-team football.
“A lot of the time young lads can simply disappear from the game for good and a lot of talent is never seen.
“Now we’re looking to take that age group and develop them, make them stronger and better, and get them ready for the next step up.”
New additions to the Vale development squad include defender Ben Jefford from Reading, former West Ham right-back Cheye Alexander and winger Wilson Carvalho from Stevenage.
Attacking midfielder Louis Tambini has joined from Leicester City while fellow striker Jordan Hugill, aged 20, is a former member of the Glenn Hoddle Academy who has arrived from non-league Marske United.
Another striker, Dominic Dell, and Irish youngster Gary O’Neil come in from Wolves to join Ryan Boot, Doug Price and Tom Morris, who signed professional terms at the end of last season after coming through Vale’s apprenticeship programme.
“It’s still early doors for me, but from what I’ve seen already, the standard in the squad will be very high,” continued Bell.
“The club is moving in the right direction. The chairman wants it to become a top team in time and this is a big step on the road to that. It’s also a big opportunity and a second chance for the lads themselves, so my job is to help them make the most of it.”