Monday, 4 July 2016

A rough guide to the future stars of Hull City - Next season's under-21s

How well do you know the next generation of Hull City players? 

The academy returned for pre-season training last week and thus far, the only transfer activity Steve Bruce has been engaging in has surrounded them too!

So here's a short guide to the players we hope will save us millions by filling our black and amber shirts in the not-too-distant future. 

Will Mannion – Goalkeeper – Age 18

A brand new signing from AFC Wimbledon for 2016/17. Will is a commanding ‘keeper whose reputation was enhanced last season by a call up to the England U18 training squad and outstanding performances for the Wimbledon U18 side as they knocked Premier League academies Watford and Newcastle out of the FA youth Cup on their way to a 5th Round tie with Chelsea.

City will have to pay a fee for Mannion which will be decided by Tribunal as the clubs could not agree to suitable compensation. He signed a three year contract and will hope to eventually make a bigger impression in City’s senior ranks than the last young goalkeeper we spent money on – Mark Oxley.

Rory Watson - Goalkeeper – Age 20

Rory is a tall and agile custodian who is from York, originally. He’ll spend the 2016/17 season on loan at North Ferriby United. Their keepers from last season, Adam Nicklin and Tom Nicholson, will not be staying with the club due to work commitments and an offer from FC Halifax respectively, which should ensure Rory gets a lot of first team football in the National League. He’s a tremendous shot-stopper who has good hands and as his decision making and kicking improves – he’s going to be a very good goalkeeper.

Rory’s departure means Jonathan Saltmer from the U18 will initially back-up Mannion as Erik Bukran was released this summer.

Josh Clackstone – Right Back – Age 19

Josh is a versatile full-back who can play on either side and has been known to cover in the centre too. He’s a determined defender who loves a tackle and always shows responsibility in defence. He has a great attitude for the game and is a leader amongst the youngsters. When he gets forward, he can be effective as he puts in a nice cross but he needs to do that more consistently given the requirement on full-backs to almost become wingers in the modern game.

Adam Curry – Central Defender – Age 19

Adam joined City from South Shields last November, just a few months after he joined “The Mariners” from Seaham Red Star. He’s an imposing centre-half who can also play left-back and is a real threat from set-pieces.

He hails from Jarrow – one of the breeding grounds for North-East football on the South bank of the river Tyne. He’s good in the air and with experience, his reading of the game will improve. The coaches at the academy will also be working on his mobility and training every day professionally will also help a lot.

Harvey Rodgers – Central Defender – Age 19

Harvey is another North Yorkshire lad and has been in the City academy for nine years. He’s instantly impactful as a player due to his shock of blonde hair and his composure on the ball. He’s a “Rolls Royce” defender who plays out beautifully from the back. He’s not fancy dan though, he’s strong in the tackle, blocks bravely and is good in the air.

Liam Cooper and Sonny Bradley are centre halves who’ve come through the academy in recent years and gone on to play league football and Harvey is definitely a lot closer to Cooper’s level than Bradley’s.

Josh Tymon – Left Back – Age 17

Josh is the poster-boy for the academy at the moment having broken into the first team last season for the FA Cup games with Rochdale and Arsenal. Wining an England U17 call-up capped a phenomenal season for him.

It came as no surprise to anyone who’d watched the U21’s at North Ferriby’s Church Road last season. All were wowed by Josh’s powerful running and whipped crosses as well as his composed defending. The fact he was only 16 at the time was remarkable.

Given his clear ability and the ease with which he took to senior football – you’ll not be surprised to hear that scouts have watched him regularly at U21 games. Some big names such as Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool are said to be amongst those watching on with interest. City certainly need to get him tied to a long-term deal as soon as he’s able to sign one at 18.

Will Annan – Winger – Age 19

Will is a name familiar to plenty of City fans after his fantastic goal in the last minute of the Premier League Cup Final second leg against West Ham secured a 1-0 City win and forced extra time in the tie.

He’s the most enigmatic player in the City youth ranks. He has bags of ability, he can run at defenders, he can see an incisive pass and he’s a fine finisher. Will is the sort of player people pay money to watch – he moves with grace and when he gets the ball, you think something will happen.

On the flip side, he can drift out of games and he needs to develop his strength for senior football. He’s got every chance to make it in the game though. That may involve a spell or spells at unglamorous clubs, either on loan or permanently, and he needs to show the determination to impress in every game.

Ellis Barkworth –Midfielder – Age 18

Ellis is a Hull lad who has just signed his first professional contract. He’s played a part for the U21’s in both of the last two seasons and has filled several different positions, including right-back. He’s an unfussy player who is good in possession who will benefit from the opportunity to play week-in and week-out against good quality opposition.

Daniel Batty – Midfielder – Age 18

Daniel joined City at U16 after being released by Leeds United. He’s an all-action midfielder who’ll do the dirty work all game long but takes care of the ball too. He’s another versatile player who does whatever job needs doing. He’s easy to spot on the pitch with his Jamie Vardy-esque soft cast on his hand and wrist.

Dan is another first-year pro who has had plenty of U21 action already but will only get better with the opportunity and responsibility playing every game brings.

Max Clark – Midfielder – Age 20

Max is the U21 captain at City but is ready for senior football and after a spell at Cambridge on loan last season, he’s returned to the Abbey Stadium until January.

Max has long been touted as the next star through the ranks at City (I say next but I can’t think who’d be the previous one!) and as a 16-year-old left-back was in the young England set-up – like Josh Tymon. I think converting him into a midfielder has stunted his development which is why we’ve not seen too much of him around the first team before now.

Max has a fantastic engine, he’s got a winning attitude and is a born-leader, and he hits a beautiful shot from distance. It’s easy to see why someone thought he’d make a fine midfielder but he’s had to adapt to it. He can be sloppy in possession at times and has to work hard at his positioning but he’s going to be a pro-footballer somewhere. Guaranteed.

Robbie McKenzie – Midfielder – Age 17

Robbie is a good footballer who quietly goes about his game. He’s good on the ball though and competitive without it. He makes intelligent runs, particularly around the box and has a good feeling for attacking from midfield. He can be a bigger personality on the pitch and should score more goals given the chances he makes for himself but he’s a good player who is young even for the U21s and improving.

Jarrod Bowen - Striker – Age 19

Jarrod signed for City from the ashes of Hereford United in 2014. He played games and got himself on the score-sheet in the Conference for Hereford as a 17-year-old and has continued to show the promise that made him attractive to City back then. He plays on the left hand side, generally in a front three, and has pace, great dribbling ability and a lovely strike off his left foot. He’s an impact player who really adds something to the team.

He can improve his all-round game, particularly his decision making around the box and his final ball in if a shot isn’t on but he’s another who has a great opportunity to play league football for a long time and, if it was up to me, would have been around the City senior side last season.

Jonathan Edwards – Striker – Age 19

Jonathan joined City this summer from Peterborough United. He’s been a prolific striker at youth level but never made the breakthrough at Posh despite a small handful of senior appearances. He’s actually been sent off once more than he’s scored in senior football!

He has good stature, is said to be quick off the mark and has an eye for goal. He’ll be one to watch in the U21s next season.

Ben Hinchliffe – Striker – Age 18

Ben signed a two-year pro-deal this summer after four years in the academy with his twin brother, Matt. Ben is the hardest working player you’ll see on a football pitch. He doesn’t stop harassing defenders from minute one. He’s the perfect striker for any team who want to press from the front and his all-round game is good and constantly improving too.

He’s a very good header of the ball and he makes intelligent runs. He’s got a little bit of growing room and if he does ad another couple of inches, he can be a very good target man.

Luke Lofts – Forward – Age 18 

Luke is a small attacking midfield player who has also just become a first-year professional. He’s the player I know the least about having not featured very often when I’ve been to U21 and Youth Cup games.

Greg Luer – Striker – Age 21

Greg is a born goal poacher – plain and simple. He joined City from Burgess Hill in January 2015 and has had loan spells at Port Vale, Scunthorpe and Stevenage but is yet to bag his first league goal. He does have two for City’s senior team though, scoring against Accrington and Rochdale in the league cup last season.

He’s another player who’ll be desperately looking to get out on loan for the coming season and prove himself at a good level. His all-round game keeps improving and he’s a good team player who uses his pace to make selfless runs that create opportunities for others. He’s definitely developed his awareness of others during his time at City.

Greg Olley – Forward – Age 20

The other Greg was released by Newcastle and joined City last summer after a tip-off from ex-Tiger Steve Harper. He’s a talented midfielder who has played just off a striker for most of his time at City. He’s mobile, technically very good, has an eye for a pass and finishes coolly. He’s a good all-rounder but if there’s anything going to stop him making it at the top level, it’s that he’s good at everything but not really great at anything.

Johan Ter Horst – Striker – Age 21

Thanks to terrible PA announcers at away grounds, I refer to JTH now as “Joanne”. Just don’t tell him – or his Mum!

Johan is another southerner, from Ashford in Kent, although as the name suggests, he has some Dutch heritage. He’s a small but sharp striker who signed a three year deal with City in the summer of 2014 – joining from the wonderfully-named Folkstone Invicta.

He’s very bright around the box, makes good runs, has a good touch and finishes well. He’s been held back somewhat by niggling injuries which have disrupted both of his seasons in the U21. If he can steer clear of injury, he’ll be a useful asset because he’s a knack for making something happen in the key areas.

The lads play the majority of their home games at Church Road, North Ferriby. It's a great little ground, easy to park for most U21 games and they do a well-priced pint and good food. Plus, with your Hull City season pass-membership-thingy, you can get in for free!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this up Rick. Great to hear how the youngsters are shaping up, and having seen them in both games v West Ham last season (glory hunter obviously), there are clearly a good number who have got a great chance of making a living in the game. I know the coaching staff think highly of Rodgers at the back (think gangly left footed version of Jobbo) for example.

  2. Good write up - nice one


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