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U21's Season preview 2013/14

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U21 Season 2013/14 Preview

 

Last season was a pretty decent season for the U21’s in regard to the huge change that had just gone before them. With the new Premier League U21 league that had gone from playing the likes of Bradford, Gateshead, Hull and Hartlepool at reserve level to fixtures against Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Fulham. A huge gulf in ability and that’s no disrespect to the reserve sides mentioned formerly.

 

The difference was highlighted in the 2nd game of the season when England International Gareth Barry played for Manchester City!

 

The core of last season’s side remains together, with the U21 league there is a rule where you are allowed to play a limited number of ‘over age’ players. So players who need fitness and drop down (like Muzzy Caracole did last season) are allowed. Kyle Oliver and Paul Weldon have both been released so a space opens at left back. The only other player who is defiantly missing was the captain from the latter part of the season, Christian Burgess. Burgess who was an inspiration last term has earned himself a loan move to neighbours Hartlepool. Which coincidentally is the ground that Middlesbrough will play the majority of their home games at after an agreement.

 

Moving up to the U21 side as they’re too old for the U18 side are Luke Coddington, Andre Bennett, Jordan Jones, Kieran Weledji, Jonathan Burn and Jimmy Warnett. Bennett is already an U21 regular, following the injury to Bruno Pilatos and the defenders subsequent release from the club Bennett has found himself regularly selected as the first choice right back. Jordan Jones is familiar with the U21s also, regularly being part of the squad. Coddington has been a regular on the bench and will fight for the starting position with Connor Ripley and Jayson Leutwiler. Although Ripley has gone to Bradford on a short term loan deal and Leuitwiler may not be risked at U21 level as he is the only cover for Steele.

 

Last season two of the 1st years found themselves regularly around the U21 squad in the latter half of the season. England U18 captain Bryn Morris is familiar with the set up after moving up from the 18’s after Captain Dolan was loaned out. And Bradley Fewster, a young England U18 forward who got games late on in the season at U21 level.

 

So what to expect? The side gelled together well last season and it should continue this season. They beat Chelsea twice, early on away at Brentford 3-1 (Sirrell, Wyke & Waters) and late on at the Riverside 2-0 (Brobbel & Carayol) which were fantastic results. But they need to stop the silly losses like Wolves at home where they were in control till it started hammering down with rain and Wolves ran riot.

 

A lot will depend on loan moves, many of the players are at an ideal age where a loan move would benefit them. Burgess has gone already, as had Ripley for the short term, last season Dolan went out to Yeovil, Charlie Wyke was at Hartlepool and Adam Jackson was at Halifax for a short time. So moves could upset the balance of the side but where one player moves out an opportunity comes in for another.

 

Who’s who?

 

Goalkeepers

Connor Ripley, England U20 World cup squad member who has gone out on loan to Bradford for the opening month of the season. At an age where a loan move is something the club wants so may not play a large role.

 

Jayson Leutwiler, Swiss back up to Jason Steele but still used at points last season to keep him match fit.

Luke Coddington, England U18 international who had a very brief youth loan at Manchester United for a cup competition. Talented keeper hoping to be a U21 regular.

 

Defenders

Adam Jackson, talented England U19 International centre back who had a brief loan spell at Halifax last season. Very classy defender who likes to stay on his feet. Looks at home bringing the ball forward.

 

Ben Gibson, eligible for the U21’s still but likely to be around the first team more often than not. Another classy defender who loves the ball at his feet, Has a brilliant cross field diagonal. Grown a huge amount following loans to York, Plymouth and Tranmere. Centre or left back.

 

David Atkinson, sadly not seen much last season after suffering a horrific knee dislocation at the end of season 2011/12, talented player who hopefully can put injury problems behind him and reach the potential he has shown. Right back, smaller centre back or a holding midfielder.

 

Ejiro Okosieme, tall centre back who moved up from the U18s last season. Did well when called upon late in the season and was outstanding vs. Blackburn.

 

Berger Meling, small Norwegian left back signed in the summer from Viking. A hive of activity, hopefully adapts quickly.

 

Jonathan Burn, moves up from the U18’s whom he joined late last season from local rivals Sunderland. Strong in the tackle and a player who seems to revel in the physical aspect of the game. Centre back.

 

Kieran Weledji, like Burn moves up from the U18’s where he captained the side regularly. Can play for Scotland. Strong centre back who leads through example.

 

Andre Bennett, made the right back spot his own last season after injury to Pilatos. And his showings probably made the decision to release Pilatos all that much easier. Son or former Sunderland defender and Captain Gary.

 

(Jake Fowler, mystery right back in pre season! More likely an attacking option though.)

 

Midfielders

Matthew Dolan, captained the side till his loan at Yeovil and really looked to have come on leaps and bounds. Superb moving the ball around and switching play. Expect a loan move for Mr Dolan.

 

Ryan Brobbel, midfielder who can play centrally or wide, and if needed off a front man. Northern Ireland U21 international.

 

Cameron Park, young wide man who has struggled with form at times during his career as a professional. Needs to get first team football.

 

Adam Reach, England U20 international who started off as a left back but really is most comfortable on the wide positions, on the right cutting in and unleashing the Reach rocket!

 

Jordan Jones, enigma of a player. Loves to run at his man and commit players into the tackle. Fantastic technically.

 

Lewis Sirrell, can cover at left back and centre back but mainly a midfielder now. Physical player who has a great engine. Signed a 1 year pro in the summer. Left footer.

 

Matthew Waters, converted 2 years ago (don’t let the MFC site fool you) from a forward to a holding midfield player. Signed a 1 year pro in the summer.

 

Jake Fowler, can cover right back but more at home on either flank attacking. Needs to kick on after struggling for the last 18 months. Had a loan spell at Gateshead late last season.

 

Bryn Morris, U18 who had been promoted to the U21’s. England U18 captain. In the mould of Dolan but slightly more mobile.

 

Bradley Halliday, signed this summer on a 1 year pro deal with a 1 year option. Can play right back if needed but really a high energy midfielder. Was on MFC’s books as an U16 then released and went to Newcastle. Released and resigned by Boro.

 

Marcos Rhoden, Boy from Brazil signed permiantly on a 1 year deal after a loan last season. Holding midfielder who is mobile and likes to pass the ball about.

 

Forwards

Bradley Fewster, England U18 international who has been promoted to the U21’s. Fast and likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender.

 

Curtis Main, probable loan move in the offing for the Powerful Curtis, proved prolific at reserve and U21 level when playing. First team fringes.

 

Luke Williams, another on the fringes of the first team, Luke is an England U20 world cup squad member. Needs to progress and that will happen through playing games.

 

Charlie Wyke, loaned last season to Hartlepool. Older brother of U18 Matthew. Forward who was very prolific in his 2nd year at the club. Recovering from a summer injury.

 

Wilson Kneeshaw, another player who was prolific in his 2nd year at the club but really not been involved half as much as he should have been since then. Quick forward who can finish when he gets the chance.

 

Rafael Pereira, 2nd of the boys from Brazil, crafty forward who can move wide.

 

Jimmy Warnett, out injured after sustaining a freak injury in the last training session of last season. Wide player who can play in the middle.

 

There are players who may drop down for game time such as Andy Halliday, Seb Hines, Parnaby, Smallwood etc but the majority above, loan dependant will be the core of the side.

 

Like last season don’t rule out players being advanced from the U18s.

 

The U21’s start their league campaign tonight at Hartlepool vs. Leicester. Kickoff is 7pm and its £3 on the game, £1 concessions and free for ST holders.

 

As usual as and when possible I will provide updates and match reports. Alternatively @Shaunwilson71 is employed by the club and the Gazette and will provide updates and match reports on the MFC/Gazette sites.

 

 

Mon Aug 12: Leicester City H

Fri Aug 16: Fulham A

Aug 23: Newcastle United H

Mon Sept 2: Bolton Wanderers A

Mon Sept 16: Wolverhampton Wanderers H

Mon Sept 23: Sunderland A

Mon Oct 7: Southampton H

Mon Oct 21: Norwich City A

Mon Nov 4: Liverpool H

Mon Dec 2: Manchester City A

Mon Dec 16: Blackburn Rovers A

Mon Jan 13: ***nal 7pm H

Mon Jan 20: Manchester Utd A

Mon Feb 3: Stoke City H

Fri Feb 7: West Bromwich Albion A

Mon Feb 17: Everton A

Mon Mar 3: Aston Villa H

Fri Mar 7: Chelsea 7pm A

Mon Mar 24: Tottenham Hotspur H

Fri Mar 28: West Ham United A

Mon April 7: Reading H

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excellent and very appreciated post Chris. thanks. From the little I've see there is some definate potential in that there team.

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Powlay many thanks and good timing. I did sit and think that I might get off my undoubtedly fat backside and go up to Hartlepool for a period yesterday afternoon.

 

Had it not been for Christine Ohoruogu's final I might have done it but I eventually decided that I wanted to watch the athletics more.

 

In view of the result looks like I made the right decision !

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