LFE takes a closer look at the players to make ‘The 11’ in March 2020 and why they’ve been included:
Okem Chime (Barnet)
Okem has enjoyed an excellent few months, scoring five goals during Barnet’s run to the third round of the FA Youth Cup and working his way into the first team, while also progressing well with his studies on the Extended Diploma.
The second-year apprentice was offered a professional contract recently having featured in a handful of games for the National League outfit, but has kept his options open to move into Higher Education.
“Okem has been an outstanding apprentice throughout his time at The Hive,” LFE Regional Officer Gavin Willacy said. “His performances up front helped Barnet go further in the FA Youth Cup than ever before, while he has earned the chance to sign a long-term professional contract.
“However, his academic profile has provided another route for him to pursue. Okem is on target to achieve D*D*D* grades and has had some offers from some of the country’s best Universities. His dedication to both aspects of the apprenticeship has been hugely impressive and I’m sure he will be a success whichever direction he chooses.”
Isaac Whitehall (Blackburn Rovers)
Isaac found school work challenging prior to joining the apprenticeship, but has worked diligently to complete the ASE framework, including both English and Maths at Level 2, which surpasses his entry qualifications.
The Under-18s captain has made excellent progress with his football development, recently signing a professional contract and leading Rovers to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, while he has also been a regular for the Under-23s.
LFE Regional Officer Craig Skinner said: “Isaac has embraced the support provided to progress to achieving merits on the course. He has also completed the Level 2 Certificate in Coaching. He should be commended for the way he has approached his education programme and has achieved highly from his entry start point.”
Blackburn Head of Education & Welfare Neil Chadwick told LFE: “Over the course of the apprenticeship and participating in various life skills programmes, Isaac’s communication and leadership skills have significantly improved.
“This has enabled him to become an integral member of the Under-18s squad, leading by example and demanding high standards of others around him. We should celebrate the progress he has made in his personal development and the impact this has had on and off the pitch.”
Jake Hutchinson (Colchester United)
Having moved to the club from Brighton & Hove Albion, striker Jake has steadily improved his standing at Colchester United throughout his apprenticeship, establishing himself as an important figure in the Under-18s.
The 17-year-old has earned many outings for the Under-23 side and gained experience of men’s football via loan spells with Grays Athletic, Brightlingsea Regent and Hitchin Town.
Meanwhile, Jake’s commitment to education saw him become the first Colchester apprentice to finish the NVQ, while he is working above target at a D*D*D grade profile on the Extended Diploma.
“Jake has made a terrific impact as an apprentice, with his progress on the pitch for the Under-18s and Under-23s putting him in a good position to gain a professional contract,” said LFE Regional Officer Gavin Willacy.
“He has also excelled at Thurstable School, where he is on course for a high grade in the Extended Diploma, which will open up many alternative opportunities if his future lies away from Colchester. He works incredibly hard and seems determined to maximise his potential in all aspects of the apprenticeship.”
Eiran Cashin (Derby County)
Second-year apprentice Eiran has been an ever present for Derby County’s Under-18s side throughout his apprenticeship and has donned the captain’s armband this season.
The Republic of Ireland Under-18 international also established himself as a key member of the Under-19 team that reached the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League, beating Borussia Dortmund along the way before falling to a strong RB Salzburg outfit.
“Eiran is a natural leader both on and off the pitch, showing maturity and determination in all areas of his work,” Head of Education & Welfare Simon Ord told LFE. “His performances have been consistently high, with tenacity and desire to improve every day.
“He is also completing the Extended Diploma and is predicted to achieve a triple distinction. Eiran has an excellent work ethic and has developed strong working relationships with staff and peers alike.”
Sam Long (Lincoln City)
Coming from an independent school education background, Sam has settled into Academy life admirably, having been out of the system since a brief spell at Crystal Palace six years ago.
The first-year apprentice, who is studying an A-Level in English alongside the Extended Diploma, has trained regularly with the first-team goalkeepers and impressed with a man-of-the-match display in the FA Youth third round against Manchester United.
Academy Manager Jordan McCann told LFE: “Sam is an outstanding young man and has started his career at Lincoln City in exemplary manner, setting standards of behaviour at the apprentice accommodation and across both aspects of his education.
“Sam shows a real commitment to his development, conducts himself impeccably at all times and is progressing in all areas of his apprenticeship. His attitude, character and personality has had a positive effect on all the other apprentices.”
Head of Football Jez George added: “Sam has become an infectious member of the squad, setting the highest standards for himself and others to follow in how he trains and conducts himself each day. This has been even more impressive considering the demands on his education.”
Michael Statham (Nottingham Forest)
Goalkeeper Michael has been a high achiever on and off the pitch this year, excelling in his education and progressing into Nottingham Forest’s Under-23s team, becoming a regular at that level.
“Michael has consistently achieved the highest grades possible in all his units,” Head of Education & Welfare Chris Caunt told LFE. “He is currently predicted to achieve a D*D* overall grade, which is significantly above his initial target. He has developed his confidence as the course has progressed and I have seen him grow as a learner.”
LFE Regional Officer Ian King added: “It has been great to see Michael develop his personality through the LFE Life Skills workshops that he has attended. He has displayed great desire and enthusiasm to complete all academic tasks to the best of his ability and this has carried over to his football, where he has established himself in the Under-23s.”
Harrison Burrows (Peterborough United)
Having signed a professional contract midway through his first year as an apprentice, Harrison has continued to make positive strides in his development this season, reaching double figures for first-team appearances across four different competitions.
The 18-year-old midfielder has not let his footballing commitments affect his education, maintaining high standards in the classroom that has seen him stay on target with his grades.
Academy Manager Kieran Scarff told LFE: “From the first day of pre-season, Harrison has been an established member of the first-team squad, making his debut in August. A number of starts and substitute appearances have followed.
“Harrison has also excelled academically – achieving D*D*D* in the Extended Diploma, while successfully completing both his NVQ and Level 2 Coaching Certificate. The ability to sustain and achieve such levels of success are testament to the character and application he shows day in, day out.
“He is a respectful, hard-working and humble young man with excellent support from his family and it is these character traits that will continue to push him forward.”
Jarvis Cleal (Plymouth Argyle)
Wing-back Jarvis has made a big impression on the pitch this year, earning a place on the first-team bench on a handful of occasions before finally making his senior debut as a late substitute during a 3-0 victory over Macclesfield Town in Sky Bet League Two.
In the classroom, the second-year apprentice remains committed to completing his education, working at Distinction standard on the Extended Diploma.
LFE Regional Officer Roger Gibbins said: “Jarvis is a very nice lad who has the potential to establish himself as a professional. He’s recently been given the opportunity to show what he can do in the first team and now it’s up to him to seize the moment.
“Despite his first-team involvement, Jarvis has maintained consistency with his grades and is on course to complete the extra units within the Extended Diploma.”
Joe Nolan (Preston North End)
Midfielder Joe struggled with injury throughout his first year, but showed great character and resilience to return stronger this season, putting together an impressive campaign in the youth team.
The 18-year-old achieved a childhood dream by scoring at Deepdale, converting a spectacular volley in the FA Youth Cup during Preston North End’s run to the fifth round. Meanwhile, Joe is exceeding his target grades on the Extended Diploma, working at triple distinction level.
“Joe is a mature, hard-working and conscientious apprentice who models professionalism at all times. He is surpassing initial expectations in the classroom, which is testament to the fact that Joe puts 100 per cent into everything that he does,” said LFE Regional Officer Sarah Kayley.
“Good progress has been made on the pitch thanks to Joe’s willingness to self-reflect on his performance, which will stand him in good stead for his continued development.”
Tom Collins (Scunthorpe United)
Tom has enjoyed a hugely successful second year both on and off the pitch. The teenage goalkeeper started the season by penning his first professional contract, and has since been promoted to first-team training and was called up for an England training camp back in August.
Alongside this, he has managed to keep on top of his academic commitments, working hard to attain an exceptional grade profile of D*D*D* on the Extended Diploma.
Ian James, Education Officer, told LFE: “Tom has had an excellent season so far at the Academy. As a valued member of the Youth Team Leadership Team, he has been able to take part and contribute in meetings with senior staff.
“During pre-season, Tom went on a training camp to the National Centre in Largs, where he was a great help to the staff with his organising ability, being able to communicate information to the other apprentices and being a sounding board after activities had taken place.
“He was also involved in engaging in the mentoring programme at St Lawrence Academy, working with ‘hard to reach’ students in Years 7 and 8. Tom leads from the front in his own way and has been a good role model to our younger players.”
Joe Gelhardt (Wigan Athletic)
Exciting forward Joe has become an increasingly important part of Wigan Athletic’s first team as the season has progressed, accumulating 15 Sky Bet Championship appearances, including two starts in recent months.
The 17-year-old was influential during the Latics’ FA Youth Cup run, bagging a brace in the fifth-round victory over Birmingham City, while he has also captained England at Under-18 level.
“Joffy is a remarkable young man that works so hard both on and off the pitch,” LFE Regonal Officer Claire Wilberforce-Marsh said. “I always look forward to my reviews with Joffy and listening to his very intelligent outlook to professional football. He is always so humble about his fantastic football achievements and is a pleasure to work with.”
Wigan’s Head of Education & Welfare Mike Hurn added: “Joffy remains hard-working and humble at all times. He continues to show a positive attitude towards all areas of his work, on and off the pitch, and is balancing life as a first-team footballer with his responsibilities within the Under-18s squad and apprenticeship.
“He commits time to completing his education both with the group and independently and embraces opportunities for life skills and personal development. He is on track to achieve his predicted grades in his BTEC and will complete his NVQ on time. A pleasure to work with and a young man we are proud to call an Academy Graduate.”