Tranmere Rovers boss Ronnie Moore has admitted that he is thinking of adding the name of Jake Kirby to the long list of youngsters who have made the breakthrough from the club’s youth ranks to the first-team.
Midfielder Kirby, an 18-year-old Apprentice, could be given a taste of senior action before the League One campaign comes to an end in three games time, after catching Moore’s eye while playing for the reserves.
“We have one or two decent kids here,” said Moore.
“I like the look of Jake Kirby, he’s impressed me.”
“If I get a chance before the end of the season, I might just sit him on the first-team bench and give him an opportunity.”
“I don’t think the lad knows what his best position is at the moment. He can play wide left, wide right, in the centre of midfield or just behind the striker.”
“Don’t be surprised if he gets half an hour or 20 minutes this season. The only way you find out if youngsters are going to be good enough is to throw them in at the deep end.”
Kirby, from Liverpool, has been a regular in the Tranmere reserves side that currently lie second in the Central League West Division following a 3-0 home win over Wrexham this week.
Fellow youth-teamer, Cole Stockton has also attracted Moore’s attention after a promising campaign for the clubs Youth and Reserve teams.
Stockton who has already made his first-team debut in January’s goalless draw with Rochdale has also impressed in two loan spells with Blue Square North outfit Vauxhall Motors.
“Cole has had a decent season,” said Moore.
Not only must Moore make decision soon on the 16 senior professionals who will be out of contract at Prenton Park this summer, he also has the final say on which of Tranmere’s second-year Apprentices will be offered professional terms for next season.
Tranmere’s squad for this season includes two first-year professionals, goalkeeper Andy Coughlin and midfielder Max Power.
Moore gave centre-back Ash Taylor, now 21, his debut three years ago while full-back Danny Holmes is a product of Tranmere’s youth development setup who was discarded in 2009 and returned last summer, going on to establish himself as a first-team regular in the second half of the season.
Moore said: “This club continues to do a great job on the youth development side but it is getting harder each year to find players, hold on to them and bring them through.”
“Shaun Garnett, our Head of Youth, faces a situation nowadays where kids are finding many other things to do. Football is not the be all and end all that used to be for youngsters.”
“If we produce one kid per season who comes through, then that’s good going.”