LFE takes a closer look at the players to make ‘The 11’ in November 2020 and why they’ve been included:
Warren Sung (Accrington Stanley)
Midfielder Warren has made a promising start to his second year as an apprentice, playing on a couple of occasions for Accrington Stanley’s Under-23 team.
The 17-year-old has also applied himself admirably in the classroom, achieving grades above his target and showing considerable improvement in his English and maths skills after showing a terrific work ethic during lockdown to pass Functional Skills.
“Warren has worked extremely hard to complete Functional Skills English and maths in his first year,” said LFE Regional Officer Craig Skinner. “He’s earned significant praise from his college tutors, who have commented on his excellent attitude and work ethic.”
Andy Gray, Accrington Under-18s coach, told LFE: “Warren has deserved all the success that has come his way. In training, on a daily basis, he looks to improve in every session. He is vital to the team as his left foot has been a valuable source of goals for us. His progression into the Under-23s is a very positive sign and just reward for his efforts.”
Matthew Cox (AFC Wimbledon)
Goalkeeper Matthew has earned international recognition during his apprenticeship, representing England Under-17s and recently being called up to the Under-18s squad, while at club level, he already penned his first professional contract back in May.
In spite of this tremendous success on the pitch, the 17-year-old has remained focused on his education, maintaining his D*DD target on the BTEC Extended Diploma.
“Matt has really matured this year and shown a professional focus on all aspects of his apprenticeship,” Head of Academy Education Stuart Page told LFE. “He never lets his standards drop while on international duty and asks for work in advance to ensure he does not fall behind during his time away.
“Matt completed his NVQ in October and is well on track to complete his BTEC qualification ahead of schedule, which is a great achievement considering his extra commitments as a firm part of the first-team goalkeeping set up here at Wimbledon.”
Charlie Wood (Bradford City)
Attacking midfielder Charlie has made impressive progress on the pitch during his apprenticeship and recently scored twice while donning the captain’s armband in Bradford City’s recent FA Youth Cup victory at Blackpool.
The 18-year-old, who made his senior debut in the Papa John’s Trophy against Oldham Athletic last night, has also been flourishing in the classroom, remaining on target to achieve his target grades on the BTEC Extended Diploma and has considered completing a UCAS application for University.
“Charlie has an excellent attitude towards the game – he is hard working and excels in everything he does,” LFE Regional Officer Pat Lally said. “Due to Covid and having to work in bubbles, he has been unable to train with the first team, but Charlie has still been able to impress the staff with his attitude, ability and overall commitment to everything he undertakes.
“Charlie is also submitting work on a timely basis and is currently achieving a Distinction grade profile on the Extended Diploma units that he has completed to date.”
Charlie Barker (Charlton Athletic)
Second-year apprentice Charlie has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his football development during the early part of the season, earning plaudits from Charlton Athletic Manager Lee Bowyer following his senior debut in the Papa John’s Trophy against AFC Wimbledon.
Bowyer described his performance as “outstanding” and handed the 17-year-old defender more appearances in Sky Bet League One, the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, in which he got his name on the scoresheet for the first time during a 3-1 win at Swindon Town.
Head of Education & Welfare Joe Francis told LFE: “As the current Under-18s captain, Charlie always leads by example – encouraging his teammates and playing with intensity and drive to win.
“Academically, although faced with the challenge of a different timetable to the rest of his year group, Charlie has attended every BTEC lecture, often having to work independently, and is fully on track to achieve a good overall grade of DM. This would exceed his projected grade.
“He is a willing learner who shows the discipline to always complete his work to the specified deadlines. He has shown that he has the responsibility and maturity to work on his own and the genuine sense of inquiry to extend the quality of his work too.”
Harrison Nee (Coventry City)
Harrison portrayed a great attitude within this review period, maintaining his level of education and continuing to work above his target grade in most units, while also starring on the pitch for the Under-18s.
The young forward voluntarily completed interactive sessions with staff and teammates during lockdown and has hit the ground running with nine goals in his opening six games of the season, including a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers.
Jay Groocock, Head of Education & Welfare, told LFE: “Harrison has been instrumental on the pitch, scoring plenty of goals for the Under-18s. His performances have been noticed as he recently experienced minutes with the Under-23s squad.
“In the classroom, Harrison is always a catalyst for discussion and has the ability to bring other teammates into the relevant topic discussions, while his high work ethic is helping him achieve a higher grade profile than his target.”
Alex Matthews (Derby County)
Seventeen-year-old Alex has made outstanding progress academically, working at triple D* standard on the BTEC Extended Diploma and maintaining high standards on the SEP element of the apprenticeship.
During his first year, the talented midfielder played a part in Derby County’s memorable Under-19 UEFA Youth League campaign, being part of the squad for a handful of European trips and featuring in a 7-2 win against Belarusian side Minsk.
Head of Education & Welfare Simon Ord told LFE: “Alex is the classic low-maintenance player who does everything to a high standard and makes the most of all his opportunities and has the total respect of his peers and staff alike. He has been a regular starter in the youth team this season and is technically very proficient in and out of possession.
“Alex is diligent and hardworking and was so committed during the lockdown, completing four of the extra Extended Diploma units in this time, while also maintaining his physical conditioning to an excellent level.”
Liam Ravenhill (Doncaster Rovers)
Having been involved in the Doncaster Rovers first team during pre-season, Liam impressed Manager Darren Moore enough to keep him training daily with the senior squad.
This month, the young midfielder earned his professional debut as a late substitute in the FA Cup first round at FC United of Manchester, with his first start following just three days later in the Papa John’s Trophy against Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-21s.
Despite only being 17, the second-year apprentice has been called up to the Northern Ireland Under-21s squad for their upcoming UEFA European Championship qualifying matches.
LFE Regional Officer Pat Lally said: “Due to his first-team commitments, Liam is doing the majority of his work on a remote basis, with the support of staff at Doncaster College. He is showing great dedication to his studies by remaining on top of his work.
“Liam showed his skills in the kitchen during lockdown by participating in the club’s Under-18 cooking challenge and managed to win day one for his tasty dish of Mexican chicken with rice. Meanwhile, he also undertook a sign language course last season.”
Fraser Alexander (Ipswich Town)
Fraser has set a fine example to his peers, having excelled on and off the pitch during his apprenticeship so far. The 17-year-old was voted by his teammates to be the captain of the Under-18s side, while he has already completed the BTEC Extended Diploma to an incredibly high standard.
Under-18s Coach Adem Atay told LFE: “Fraser has been with the academy from the age of eight-years-old, and over the many review meetings held with him and his parents, I have continuously commended his work ethic, professionalism and dedication.
“He always stays grounded and never veers away from his focus of trying to improve himself each day. He is a truly excellent role model and is an influential part of the Under-18s’ leadership group.”
Sian Skevington, Academy DSO & Interim Head of Education, added: “Fraser has been an exceptional learner throughout his education programme and continually applied himself to all tasks. He has completed the BTEC Extended Diploma at a D*D*D* final grade profile, working consistently over lockdown to achieve this.
“Alongside this, he has been studying for an A-Level in mathematics and has made excellent progress with this course too. His tutors describe him as ‘driven, hardworking and inquisitive with a thirst for knowledge’.”
Henry Popple (Middlesbrough)
First-year apprentice Henry has made a positive start to his apprenticeship in the classroom, completing his Functional Skills in maths with a glowing report from his tutor, as well staying up to date and excelling with his BTEC target grades.
The teenage goalkeeper has demonstrated a great willingness to learn and takes the lead in presentations, while he has made a great impact on the local community by contributing to various fundraising tasks with the rest of the Under-18s squad.
“Henry recently took a really strong lead in a community-based project, which was part of the NCS programme. He, along with his teammates, generated over £150 worth of care packages for elderly people within the local community,” Head of Education & Welfare Barry Dawson told LFE.
“In addition, Henry organised a zoom bingo call to help raise the spirits of the residents of the care home. Henry was also excellent in sessions during lockdown and has started really well.”
Mason McLean (Queens Park Rangers)
Mason has demonstrated strong self-motivation and exceptional work ethic throughout his apprenticeship, showing great commitment to whatever is asked of him both on and off the pitch.
The tough tackling full-back was rewarded with the Under-18s captaincy this year and has led by example in terms of his training programme, as well as being a diligent student.
“As a very academically capable student, Mason is keen to push himself within his Extended Diploma programme and he truly understands the value of his own hard work,” Adam Kaliniecki, Academy Liaison Officer, told LFE. “He is the epitome of ‘getting out what one puts in’. Mason is mild mannered, mature and confident and is a great example to the other players of the academy.
“On the pitch, his characteristics are very much reflected in the same way. It is clear to our coaches that Mason always inputs maximum effort and concentration within every training session and match. His effort and application is among the best of the squad and he is determined to make the most of the opportunity that his apprenticeship offers him.”
Nigel Aris (Shrewsbury Town)
Shrewsbury Town Under-18s captain Nigel has displayed tremendous development on the pitch this season, with better fitness levels and better performances helping him become a key part of the team’s success.
Winger Nigel, who was called up for Nigeria Under-17s last year, has twice been an unused substitute in the Papa John’s Trophy this season, while he is making solid progress on the BTEC Extended Diploma, working at D*D*D standard.
BTEC Tutor Andy Jones told LFE: “Nigel has a really good attitude towards education in the classroom and is able to remain focused over long periods of time. He seems focused on obtaining his target grade and is certainly a role model to his peers in this respect.
“Nigel is comfortable with attempting and meeting the distinction criteria at the first attempt and regularly asks good questions around the subject content. He is always early and first in to all sessions and is an excellent student.”