Coventry City’s Academy Manager, Gregor Rioch has insisted that the Sky Blues have plenty of young players ready to come off the production line after seeing one of his Academy youngsters make the move to Liverpool.
The departure of England Youth international Conor Thomas has disappointed some City fans but Rioch has assured fans that there is no cause for concern because there are a number of other youngsters waiting in the wings.
Thomas made two FA Cup appearances for the Sky Blues this term while still only a first-year Apprentice but his exit has opened the door for fellow 17 year old midfielder Josh Ruffels, who is the latest name to appear on Aidy Boothroyd’s team sheet as one of his match-day substitutes and Rioch is confident more will follow.
“We have some talented lads here,” said Rioch.
“Conor was a little bit special because he made his debut at Under-18 as an Under-14, which is very rare, and he played regularly for the 18s as an Under-15 and 16 and was ready to step up to the first-team squad when he went full-time.”
“We have been very fortunate that we have had Managers very supportive of the Academy and brave to put young lads in and Aidy Boothroyd is certainly progressing our hard work on to another level with the young lads.”
“Conor has moved on and that has opened up a nice opportunity for Josh Ruffels and Gael Bigirimana who was on standby for England Under-19s this week. I don’t think he will make the squad but he was on standby so that’s another carrot for the lads.”
“We also have a couple of Wales Youth internationals in Will Roberts and Aaron Phillips, and Johnson Harris made his senior debut in August as a 16 year old in the League Cup, to name just a few.”
“So we have an array of players that, if they work hard and concentrate and show a desire like Conor did, can progress through the ranks. And it is my job to keep working with the lads to see who is going to be next.”
He added: “I’m really excited about the group coming in next year and the current crop of first years becoming second years.”