They’ve beaten off competition from 1300 of their peers around the country so here’s an in depth look at who made LFE’s XI for December 2014 and why they’ve been included:
Mathew Stevens (Barnet)
Dubbed the Conference’s answer to Wayne Rooney, Matt made his Barnet debut at 16 years and 7 months as a late sub against Alfreton Town in September.
By the end of November, he had scored an astonishing 30 goals in league and cup! Signed from Reading this summer, Matt, from Camberley, has also worked hard at Stanmore College on his BTEC and Functional Skills and has shown an exemplary attitude towards tasks and staff.
Reece Webb-Foster (Bradford City)
Reece is a forward who has made a big impression at the Coral Windows Stadium. With an eye for goal he is expected to provide the Bantams with fire-power for many seasons to come.
Pat Lally who works as an LFE regional officer alongside his role as The Professional Footballers’ Association, Director of Education, said:
“Reece is currently doing extremely well on his BTEC Extended Diploma, has already passed the Functional Skills in English and has received glowing reports from his tutors at college.”
George Cooper (Crewe Alexandra)
Second year George made his first-team bow in September and has now featured in over a dozen games for the Railwaymen. Under-21’s manager James Collins, said:
”George has progressed nicely this season quickly becoming an integral part of the first team squad and a regular in the starting 11. His impact has been terrific with 2 goals already.
“He has shown a mature head on young shoulders by taking responsibility for getting on the ball no matter the state of the game. He has a bright future ahead of him”.
Off the pitch George is progressing well on his NVQ, Level 2 Coaching and BTEC qualifications and has already passed his Functional Skills English (at Level 2).
Crewe’s Head of Education Dave Whiteside, added: “I’m very pleased by George’s commitment to his studies. Naturally, his main focus is his football but he is also focused on keeping his education up-to date and is achieving excellent results.”
Jack McKay (Doncaster Rovers)
Son of football agent Willie, Jack makes our team after impressing academically and on the football front.
Academy manager Paul Wilson said; “Jack’s attitude and approach to his football has been exemplary and this has been rewarded with a professional contract and saw him make his first-team debut against Sheffield United recently.
“He’s a shining example and role model to the younger players in the academy and gives 100 per cent in every area of his apprenticeship.”
Simon Smithurst, lead BTEC tutor at Doncaster College added;
“Jack’s been a fantastic student and has recently completed his 19th unit on his BTEC Extended Diploma ahead of schedule. His grade profile reflects the work he has put in and has given him real options if he ever needs to change career at a later date.”
Liam Bleeker (Fleetwood Town)
Liam has shown real promise both on and off the field in the last three months. Solid performances in the FA Youth Cup and U21 Development Squad have seen the young keeper called-up by Graham Alexander into the first-team squad as a back-up to Chris Maxwell.
Having already passed his Level 2 Coaching in Football Certificate, over at Blackpool Sixth Form College, local boy Bleeker is on target for D*D*D*, the highest possible grade on the BTEC Extended Diploma.
Kieran Green (Hartlepool United)
“Kieran deserves to be recognised by the League Football Education for his fantastic progression so far this season,” said Pool Academy boss John Hewitson.
“He was told at the end of last season to make sure that he was in better condition when he came back for pre-season training. He came back in great shape and was quickly added to the first-team training squad.
“He has worked tirelessly and his improvements have been rewarded when he made his first-team debut last week against Burton. He is a credit to the club and we are very proud of him.”
Jamie Philpot (Millwall)
Prolific marksman Philpot who has bagged goals at Under-18 and Under-21 level made LFE’s shortlist for its November Goal of The Month competition but he has also been sparkling in the classroom at Bromley College.
LFE’s Gavin Willacy, said: ??“Jamie sets a fine example to the group with his commitment to learning, first to arrive, last to leave, with high quality work produced as he completes the BTEC Extended diploma. He has also shown a superb attitude to all other parts of his apprenticeship this term.”
Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest)
While the chant “You’ll never beat Des Walker”, summed up his Dad’s talent’s Nottingham Forest have high hopes for promising forward Tyler.
The youngster has already finished his Level 2 Coaching certificate and NVQ and is on target to complete his BTEC Extended Diploma with a triple distinction. He has already had a taste of being around the Forest first-team after spending most of pre-season with Stuart Pearce’s squad and being named on the bench for the Capital One Cup clash with Tottenham.
Conor Chaplin (Portsmouth)
Conor has made excellent progress after injury dominated his first year as an apprentice. Having completed over half of his BTEC Extended Diploma, the youngster has now has his sights on a first-team appearance and has been given a positive appraisal by Pompey’s Head of Education, Jon Slater, who said:
”I am very confident that he will be able to complete all aspects of his education programme. This has been a good year so far for Conor and he has already trained with the first-team and made the bench.
“All is good in his world at the moment and I would urge him to maintain his positive attitude and professional approach to all of his work.” Jon Slater, Head of Education.
Harry Norman (Southend United)
A worthy recipient of this accolade, Harry whose progress on the pitch has been hampered by a blood infection following complications after a shin injury is battling back to fitness and the club have already offered him a 3rd year to enable him to recover his lost time.
LFE regional officer, Darren Bloodworth, said,??”Harry is a young man with a lot of character and determination. He had to deal with news that he may not play again this season but is battling hard to recover at the moment.
Despite this major setback he has been completing his education programme from home and deserves real credit for the attitude and resolve he has shown.”??
O’Neil Odofin (Torquay United)
Had a testing time as a first-year apprentice but has adopted a new attitude this term both on and off the pitch according to LFE’s Roger Gibbbins.
Rewarded with a first-team debut in the 5-0 FA Trophy hammering of Bishop’s Stortford, where he came on as substitute 15 minutes from time. Has previously been an unused substitute on several occasions.
The tall central defender will be hoping for further opportunities as the season progresses.