LFE takes a closer look at the players to make ‘The 11’ in April 2022 and why they have been included:
Tommy Fogarty (Birmingham City)
Second-year apprentice Tommy Fogarty has been a standout performer in the heart of Birmingham City’s Under-18s defence this season and has regularly featured for the Under-23 side. The central defender has also gained international recognition, frequently representing the Republic of Ireland’s Under -17s and, more recently, earning a call-up to the Northern Ireland Under-19s for fixtures against Norway, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Away from the pitch, the 18-year-old is on track to achieve a D*D*D* in his BTEC Extended Diploma and the club’s Head of Education Danny Brain has been delighted with his application since he started on the Apprenticeship Programme.
“He has been a credit to the programme since joining us full time in 2020,” Brain said. “His attitude towards the whole programme has been excellent. We have been very pleased with his ability to work independently, ensuring that he meets all deadlines, which at times has been a challenge for him due to international selection. However, he has managed and prioritised his time really well. He has produced some excellent pieces of work within both his BTEC and SEP throughout his scholarship consistently meeting his target grade.
He added: “He has been rewarded for his hard work and commitment throughout the season as he has featured for the U23s on several occasions along with regularly being selected to represent the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.“
Patrick Gamble (Blackburn Rovers)
Dominant defender Patrick Gamble has displayed tremendous development in the second year of his apprenticeship, showing excellent leadership skills to captain the Under-18s to an FA Youth Cup Quarter Final and a successful campaign in the Under-18 Premier League. The young defender has also earned himself four starts for Mike Sheron’s Under-23 side.
The Championship club moved quickly to tie down the talented teen to his first professional contract, but for LFE Regional Officer, Craig Skinner, it is his progress away from the pitch that has been just as pleasing:
“Patrick has made excellent progress on the BTEC Diploma and is well on course to achieve a D*D*,” Skinner said. “Alongside that, his SEP work has been outstanding and he gained a distinction on his EPA. He displayed outstanding presentation and communication skills when delivering back to the Academy’s multidisciplinary team.
“He has not missed a game for the U18s in what has been a successful season for the team. His overall application to everything has been top-notch. He has displayed outstanding leadership skills on and off the pitch and has been someone who has demanded and driven high standards in everyone.”
Joel Tabiner (Crewe Alexandra)
The Railwaymen’s Joel Tabiner has been a model apprentice since joining the programme in 2020, performing at an extremely high standard academically, as well as establishing himself as a rising star on the pitch after making his first-team debut in a 3-0 Papa John’s Trophy victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers in November.
The 18-year-old remains on track to achieve a D*D*D* on the BTEC Extended Diploma, which signifies his maturity to seamlessly transition from face-to-face learning to online learning methods during lockdown.
Tabiner’s lecturer Lauren Goff told LFE: “Joel was initially enrolled onto the National Diploma but very quickly demonstrated a motivation to push himself to the highest possible level. He is now working at Triple Distinction Star on the National Extended programme. He is an absolute pleasure to teach and the effort that he puts into every piece of work is outstanding.
“In addition, Joel is an excellent role model for the younger academy players and a credit to Crewe Alexandra Football Club.”
Following on from his senior debut, the midfielder has worked hard to maintain high performance levels for both the Under-18s and Under-23 sides, impressing the Under-18s Assistant Manager Ryan Dicker.
“Joel is developing into an excellent player and one who has the skill set to be an all-around midfielder,” Dicker said. “He can handle the ball marked, possesses excellent techniques and has an excellent range of passing. He can create and score goals and he has been terrific in the youth team and the Under-23s this season.
“We value Joel highly and look forward to seeing his progression in the upcoming months.”
Aman Panesar (Hull City)
Midfielder Aman Panesar has had to show great character and resilience to overcome two serious injuries which affected his football development at the start of his apprenticeship. While injured, the 18-year-old displayed a positive attitude towards his rehabilitation and managed to keep on top of his academic commitments to attain an impressive grade profile of DDD on the BTEC Extended Diploma.
Hull City’s Head of Education Dean Jennings has been impressed with how the teenager has dealt with each setback, telling LFE: “Aman has had an extremely difficult first year in terms of injury. He has overcome two serious injuries and has shown excellent resilience and a positive attitude during those long periods of rehab to get fit and back into the team. He has worked hard in all rehab sessions and has maintained a positive outlook around his teammates. Aman has now regained his place in the team, continuing the build-up to full minutes in the games programme, and is having a positive impact on team performances as well as his own.
“Academically, Aman has shown an excellent understanding of each of the topics covered on the Extended Diploma and has consistently produced work of a high standard. He has also offered support to some of his peers in these units of work, offering guidance, advice and support whenever it has been needed.
“Away from the pitch, Aman has taken part in several initiatives outside of his daily routine, engaging with a wide range of people in the community. He recently attended a disability football tournament at the Tigers Trust, watching and encouraging the participants as well as handing out medals to the players at the end of the competition. Aman has also attended an AIMS event where players from Asian backgrounds came together to inspire younger players in football and sport in general.”
Dylan Hill (Northampton Town)
Under-18s captain Dylan Hill has been an exemplary apprentice since joining the LFE Apprenticeship Programme at the start of the season, after initially spending a year as an extended schoolboy. During his first year, the midfielder has overcome learning difficulties to surpass his predicted grade on the BTEC Diploma and has trained with the first team on numerous occasions after impressing the coaching staff with his solid performances for the Under-18s.
It is his attitude, work rate and commitment that have made Hill a standout student and player during the first year of his apprenticeship, and Academy Education Lead Peter Stephenson believes Hill’s achievements are worthy of recognition.
Speaking to LFE, Stephenson said: “Dylan has been an example to all the apprentices right from day one. His attitude is fantastic towards all aspects of the apprenticeship. He conducts himself impeccably at all times, leads by example, and his work rate and desire to be the best version of himself are there for all to see.
“He is a lower-level learner but in his BTEC he is regularly hitting merit and distinctions through the effort he is putting in to overcome the learning issues he has. Although he has an EHCP, he has never let it hold him back and the progress in his education has been fantastic.
“Maths has been a huge barrier, and we have seen him trying so hard to do the best he can. He recently received the news that on the second attempt, he passed his Functional Skills Level 2 Maths with a score of 47. Given that he has a bit of dyscalculia, this is a fantastic achievement and one he has managed to get down to the pure effort and hard work he has put in
“His attitude, work rate and commitment make him a model scholar on and off the pitch and one that certainly deserves to be recognised by the LFE 11.”
Dale Taylor (Nottingham Forest FC)
Exciting forward Dale Taylor has been in red-hot form for Nottingham Forest’s Under-18s during their first season as a Category One Academy, playing an instrumental role in the club’s historic run to the FA Youth Cup final, as well as impressing Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough enough to be given his full international debut aged 17.
The talented teen has not let his footballing achievements affect his commitment to his education either, adopting a positive attitude towards the BTEC Diploma to produce work that exceeds his target grade. Alongside that, Taylor is performing well on his UEFA C coaching course and the Sporting Excellence Professional (SEP).
“Dale’s knowledge, understanding and ability are clear to see in each area of his apprenticeship,” Matt Sinclair, SEP Coordinator and Functional Skills Tutor told LFE. “It has been pleasing to see his progress over the last 18 months and to see his confidence grow in the more knowledge-based topics. As with his approach in Functional Skills, he brings positive energy to the classroom in SEP sessions and helps to develop an excellent learning environment.
ALN Tutor, Rob Howard, added: “Dale is very self-aware and not afraid to seek help when required and then acts on the advice given. He is always prepared to go that extra mile when needed and, over the two years, I have seen Dale grow in confidence.
Commenting on the impression he has made while on international duty, Ian Baraclough told LFE: “I brought Dale into the senior squad because I see maturity in his play as well as his attitude. He dealt with the step up very well and wasn’t found wanting during training, when making his debut, or around the other players at the hotel. This experience will hopefully inspire him to bigger and better achievements.”
Kane Badby (Oldham Athletic)
18-year-old Kane Badby has impressed all staff at Oldham Athletic during the second year of his apprenticeship, having displayed excellent leadership qualities and a rapid spike in confidence that has aided him both on and off the pitch.
The winger was rewarded for his hard work and professionalism at the beginning of the year when he put pen to paper on his first professional deal and has since gained valuable experience on loan with non-league side Trafford FC.
Conor Marlin, the Latics’ Head of Academy, has been particularly impressed with the youngster’s personal development this season. Speaking to LFE, he said: “The improvement in Kane is nothing short of remarkable.
“His attitude to everything has improved drastically and he is becoming a leader in the group. When he first came in as an apprentice at 16, he would barely speak – but recently he took it upon himself to hold a youth council meeting, chair it, minute it and lead it. Our safeguarding manager could not believe it and neither could I – that alone was something we are very proud of.
“He is applying himself to his college work, studying independently and focusing on what is required. He is going to be our first player through SEP, which is a magnificent achievement for someone who struggles academically.
“The progress in Kane is remarkable and has led to an improvement in his all-round performance; on and off the field.”
Will Jenkins-Davies (Plymouth Argyle)
First-year scholar Will Jenkins-Davies has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his football development this season, signing his first professional contract on his 17th birthday in October last year, before making his first-team debut in a 4-1 victory over Accrington Stanley a month later.
The dynamic midfielder has also earned international recognition with Wales, representing the Under-18s on numerous occasions. Alongside his football, Jenkins-Davies has shown an excellent attitude towards his education.
Under-18s Coach Darren Way has been delighted with what the youngster has achieved in the most recent review period:
“Since working with Will he’s shown an excellent willingness to learn and he’s carried all his educational work out with a huge amount of detail. He’s well-liked by his peers and earned a huge amount of respect by working hard on and off the pitch.
“Will’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the first-team coaching staff, who have presented him with the opportunity to train and make his football league debut. I’m sure if he continues to show this amount of desire and commitment to succeed, he will stand a very good chance of a successful football career.”
LFE’s Regional Officer Will Morford also praised Will’s mature outlook on education: “Will continues to impress in all aspects of his apprenticeship. He has remained grounded and has continued to focus on his education which is reflected in having achieved distinction grades in his BTEC assignments so far this year. He shows maturity in his thinking and consistently demonstrates the professional standards expected.”
Toby Steward (Portsmouth)
First-year apprentice Toby Steward has excelled both on and off the pitch at Fratton Park this season. The goalkeeper has established himself as the number one for the Under-18s side and on his 17th birthday secured his first professional contract.
His excellent form has led to regular involvement with the first team, as well as on the international stage with England, having attended several England development camps at St. George’s Park.
LFE’s Regional Officer, Tom Palmer, has kept a close eye on Steward’s rapid football development during the most recent review period and praised the stopper for staying on course to achieve a DDD on the BTEC Extended Diploma.
Speaking to LFE, Palmer said: “It has been a very exciting time for Toby over the last 12 weeks, having spent much of this period training with the first team and also being named on the bench several times for first team matches. He has already secured a professional contract which is richly deserved and a reflection of his hard work in year one. The challenge now is to push on right through to the end of this season and maintain the standards set.
“Away from the pitch, Toby shows a very positive attitude and a conscientious approach to his work. With first team and international involvement, Toby has had to adapt to a new learning schedule. To cope with his busier schedule, Toby often works at home to ensure he does not fall behind with his education, finding a good balance alongside his football commitments. This is a really good attitude that will have to continue for the remainder of this year and well into year two as his football development demands grow even further, as expected. Toby is completing the BTEC Extended Diploma alongside SEP, with high grades forecasted in both.”
Mikey O’Neill – Preston North End
Throughout his apprenticeship, Mikey O’Neill has displayed a tremendous commitment to his education, working at triple D* standard on the BTEC Extended Diploma and becoming the first player to pass his SEP End Point Assessment with a Distinction.
The 17-year-old midfielder has also enjoyed an exceptional season on the pitch, helping the Under-18s win the 2021/22 EFL Youth Alliance North West title with three games remaining, before making his senior debut for Preston North End in their Championship victory over Queens Park Rangers. To top off what has been a memorable campaign and review period, the teenager signed his first professional contract last week.
Head of Education, Phil Brown, told LFE: “Mikey is an exemplary apprentice, demonstrating real quality on the pitch and an attitude to match off it.
“In terms of his football, there has been a marked improvement in his footballing ability in the past 12 months. In his second year, he has kicked on noticeably in his football, showing staff consistently his technical and tactical ability and understanding, as well as his willingness to learn. He has stretched himself with his effort and determination and this provided him with the platform to approach a professional contract with real confidence.
“Reflecting on his overall apprenticeship, part of the reason he has been nominated is that he has again exceeded expectations in all areas. He is expected to exceed his target grade for his BTEC by achieving a D*D*D* and was the first player to complete his SEP portfolio and End Point Assessment, which are both outstanding achievements.”
Shannon Brown (Queens Park Rangers)
17-year-old Shannon Brown has made a promising start to life as a first-year apprentice at Loftus Road, putting maximum effort into every aspect of the apprenticeship programme.
The winger’s punctuality and effort during the most recent review period have impressed his coaches and tutors, along with his increased confidence which has led to better engagement in group discussions.
Commenting on his footballing achievements, Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Micah Hyde told LFE: “Shannon has made a great start to his apprenticeship. Shannon has performed well this season. It is clear that he possesses an excellent football brain and plays in a manner that belies his stature. He is a natural with the ball at his feet and has a good range of passing.”
Reflecting on his notable academic progress, BTEC Tutor Rebecca Carter, added: “Shannon has been incredible so far in terms of effort. He remains on task throughout his education days and is determined to get through his work on time. Shannon is very punctual and often one the first in and often helps to assist with setting up for the day. When he is unsure of what to do how to articulate his knowledge, he asks for support.”