Port Vale’s Youth Team Manager Mick Ede has been encouraged by the Club’s U18’s start to the Youth Alliance season.
Unbeaten, Vale currently lie fourth six point behind leaders Blackpool in the Youth Alliance North West Conference table.
And their good start has been rewarded with several of the Apprentices selected for Reserve team duties.
16 year old central defender Joe Davis and 17 year old keeper Sam Johnson have also been involved with the first-team squad.
“The priority is to produce footballers for Port Vale – so development is fundamental,” said Ede.
“This year the seven players we took on as first-year scholars all came from our own under-16s set-up.”
“Last season only two lads came through our own system and another seven arrived from outside the Club.”
“It would be nice to think two or three of the second-year players will be pushing for professional contracts.”
Among the second-year Apprentices vying for pro deals are striker Kristian Cox (18), centre-back Charlie Raglan (17), midfielder Liam Rice (18) and centre-back Andy Bratt (17).
They have all featured for the reserves, along with 1st year Apprentices Davis and midfielder Ryan Lloyd.
“Joe Davis reads the game really well and he’s a natural-born leader,” added Ede, who has worked under Youth chief Mark Grew for five years.
“He enjoys the challenges put before him, his preparation is second-to-none and if everything goes well for him he will make a good professional.”
“Technically, Ryan Lloyd is frighteningly good. He moves past opponents before they barely know he’s got the ball.”
Vale who have won three of their six games in the Youth Alliance will be hoping that a victory at Walsall today will edge them closer to the summit of the league.