Michael Johnson has hailed the potential of his current crop of Apprentices following their encouraging start to the Youth Alliance Campaign.
The Club’s U18’s sit second in the Youth Alliance North East Division after winning five of their seven fixtures so far.
And Youth-team boss Johnson has been impressed by their form this term after a challenging season last year.
“We’ve done ok, we’re taking it along nicely after a not so good year last year. The boys are starting to take on board what we’re telling them and the results are showing that,” said Johnson.
“But the bottom line is that they’ve got to get pro-contracts. So I’d be happy if 4 or 5 of them came through and we didn’t win the league, but obviously it’s nice to win the league if we can still be up there at the end of the season.”
While County have started the season impressively Johnson feels that his sides progress shouldn’t be based purely on results.
“The ultimate goal for this is the lads development. We’ve had 5 or 6 of the lads in and around the 1st team – Haydn Hollis, Alex Troke, Nathan Fox, Lewis Whiteley, Lewis Williamson so it’s been really good.”
The big question everyone wants to know is can they play against men? What are they like against experienced professionals? That’s the bridge we’ll be looking for them to cross.”
A former Notts County Apprentice himself (1989–91) Johnson made close to 150 appearances for the Magpies during two spells at the Club and he hopes that some of his current fledglings will be able to benefit from his experience, he added:
“I know exactly what the boys are going through because not too long ago it was me standing there hoping for a pro-contract at this very Football Club. I know the pressures of it, I know what they’re going through and with that experience hopefully it can rub off to one or two of them.”
Notts County will hope to maintain their good start to the season when they travel to bottom of the table Rotherham Utd this weekend.