Sunday, 29 July 2018

Who are Hull City Under 23s? A rough guide.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a guide to the Hull City Under-21 squad (as was). Here is a very long overdue update which is timely given the high turnover of Under 18s and under 21s in the academy this summer.

The Inbetweeners

I’ll start with the players who I’ve dubbed “The Inbetweeners” – and not just for the photoshop opportunity. These lads are at the stage where they are starting to outgrow Under 23 football and could use a chance to play first team football at a senior level.

Daniel Batty - Midfielder - Age 20

‘Bats’ was the headline “graduate” from the academy last season. He’s a tenacious midfielder who loves a tackle and can spray a pass. He’s a real box to box midfielder who takes responsibility for the ball, leads on the field and can shoot from distance. He joined City after being released by Leeds United aged 15 and their loss is very much our gain.

He broke through into the first team squad last season after a short loan spell at Halifax in the National League, in which he scored twice – making his full debut at Brentford on the final day. With some patience, he has the ability to step up regularly this season but if his route to regular football is blocked, he must go out on loan.

Callum Burton - Goalkeeper - Age 21

Callum is one of two very capable young goalkeepers who have outgrown the Under 23s but are unlikely to feature on matchdays due to the signing of George Long. A young England international at three age levels, he joined City from Shrewsbury last summer. Whilst with the Shrews, he’s already had loan spells at six non-league clubs.

He’s tall and agile and demonstrated his maturity during a short loan spell at Salford last season. He is more than ready to play first team football somewhere – the club need to work hard to make it happen.

Will Mannion - Goalkeeper - Age 20

While a little younger than Callum Burton, Will is in the same boat. He’s an outstanding goalkeeper who needs to play senior football. While not the tallest at just over six foot, he’s physically strong and fills the goal. He’s very decisive for a young ‘keeper and has superb reflexes.

He also has caps for England at U19 level earned before and after he joined City from AFC Wimbledon in 2016 in a deal that cost £100k in compensation and could rise to £225k if he meets the targets. Will had a comical loan spell at Plymouth last season joining during a keeping emergency in Devon, playing one game the same evening in that Checkatrade Cup thing, losing and returning to City the same week. It will have given him a taste for the action though and a proper spell out on loan will be hugely beneficial to him.

Adam Curry - Central Defender - Age 21

City signed Adam from South Shields in November 2015 but saw hardly anything of him until the middle of season due to a horrible run of injuries. He’s an imposing centre-half, mainly because he looks about 35, who is a good ball-winner and is very good with the ball at his feet.

He had a spell on loan at Boston in the National League North last season and scored on his debut which is particularly impressive because he doesn’t get near anything in the box at Under 23 games! Adam is another who needs to play regular football at 21 and wouldn’t let anyone down if called upon by the first team.

Tyler Hamilton - Winger - Age 19

Tyler is a local lad who went to St Mary’s College, like me. He’s a very exciting wide player who carries the ball well and commits defenders. He has trained with the first-team squad over the past couple of seasons and is very highly thought of.

If there’s a criticism of Tyler, it’s that he doesn’t score enough goals for the positions he gets in but he makes things happen and is a very forward-looking player. He’ll be looking forward (see what I did there?) to a taste of senior football this season.

Robbie McKenzie - Central Defender/Midfielder - Age 19

Robbie has been with the club a long time and has quietly progressed through the ranks. He’s played a lot of football at centre half in the last couple of seasons due a dearth of defenders in the senior and junior ranks but was originally a central midfielder and slots back in there comfortably enough.

He’s a great squad member. He’s quiet and unassuming but does the job effectively. He reads the game, times his tackles well and uses the ball nicely. He’s a senior member of the U23s – he’ll be 20 shortly – and needs to really test himself now.

The Under 23 squad

Charlie Andrew - Goalkeeper - Age 18 (1st year pro)

Charlie is a quality young goalkeeper who will spend next season on loan at Pickering Town. He was their player of the season last year as they secured promotion from the Northern Counties East League and he’ll be tested next season in the Evo-Stik League East Division.

He’s not the tallest ‘keeper but he’s brave and agile and makes excellent decisions. He has a lot of Jordan Pickford about him which means he’ll definitely be the England ‘keeper for World Cup 2022.

Brandon Fleming - Left Back - Age 18

Brandon is a small but resolute left-back who gets forward well and has a nice left foot. He’s been at City since he was 9 years old and already has a lot of experience of Under 23 football due to the ascension of his predecessors Josh Tymon and Max Clark into the first team picture.

He is another who had a spell out on loan last season, playing three games for Gainsborough Trinity. I’m sure he’d love to go out again but I’m not sure Jon Beale can spare him!

Lewis Ritson - Central Defender - Age 19

Like Adam Curry, “Ritto” is from the North East. He joined City at 16 and stands out on the pitch with his flock of ginger hair and his illegible accent but especially with his combative performances. He’s a really good leader who loves a battle but is a decent footballer too.

He’s very good in both boxes whether attacking the ball in the air or reacting to second balls and sniffs out a few goals.

Josh Thacker - Central Defender - Age 18 (1st year pro)

Josh is in the process of stepping up from the Under 18s having signed as a pro earlier this summer. He’s a calm, ball-playing defender who one former Under 16 coach told me gave him nightmares with his insistence on playing football even under ridiculous pressure. He’s powerfully built and another who loves a battle too.

A local lad, Josh’s Dad Martin is well known in East Riding football circles particularly as a player and manager at Hall Road Rangers.

Jordan Hickey - Defender / Midfielder - Age 18

Jordan is a new arrival from Sunderland who played for the Under 23s a couple of times on trial last season. He can play at centre half or as a defensive-minded midfielder and is known for his tough tackling and responsible attitude on and off the pitch.

Billy Chadwick - Midfielder - Age 18

Billy is an ultra-talented central midfielder whose progress was halted a couple of seasons by an ACL which he’s fought back from. He’s been tipped for big things at City from a young age and has always played up 2 or 3 age groups such is his awareness on the pitch and the maturity of his game.

He’s no shrinking violet and is guilty of the odd horrific tackle (think Paul Scholes) but his game is about seeing and playing a forward pass and getting around the box to create chances or get a strike on goal. His cousin, Carl, is the latest owner of North Ferriby United and I’m sure Billy has spent the summer being “tapped up”!

Max Sheaf - Midfielder - Age 18 (1st year pro)

Max is a striking tall, blonde midfield player who moves elegantly and takes a good set-piece. He joined City at the age of 16 having been at Arsenal for whom his brother Ben still plays. A third Sheaf brother, Jake, is a professional beach volleyball player.

During the friendly against a SportPesa All-Star team at the KCOM Stadium in February 2017, Max suffered a fractured skull following a sickening collision. It came only weeks after Ryan Mason’s injury at Chelsea. Fortunately, Max has recovered and now plays with a padded headband.

Elliott Holmes - Midfielder - Age 18 (1st year pro)

Elliott is an attack-minded midfielder who plays anywhere across the front and wide. He has good feet and acceleration and plays with his head up. He missed six months of last season with a back injury and is playing catch-up a little but impressed enough to earn a professional contract.

Ahmed Salam - Winger - Age 17 (1st year pro)

Ahmed is a left-back cum left-winger who has pace to burn and finishes well with his left-foot. He exploits space going forward but fits in at the back when needed.

Ahmed is one of the wider known members of the youth setup as Egyptian football website KingFut published interviews with him when he was just 15 because of his Egyptian parentage. His family are hugely supportive and present at most games. His brothers play locally too.

Callum Smith - Winger - Age 19

Callum is the other new signing in the Under 23 squad this season having left Newcastle United at the end of last season. He’s a left-winger with good delivery and an eye for goal who starred in Newcastle’s FA youth Cup runs a couple of years ago but slipped down their pecking order last season. Like Lewis Ritson, he has a namesake in professional boxing.

Keane Lewis-Potter - Forward - Age 17

Keane signed his first professional contract in February and unusually, signed for 2 ½ years. If you watch him, you’ll see why. He’s a small but clever forward with a lovely first touch who makes things happen around the box and makes perfectly times runs into space to create chances and score goals.

He’s not 18 yet but has scored goals for the Under 18s and Under 23s in the last two seasons

Tom Powell - Striker - Age 19

Tom joined City from Wigan last summer and was a favourite of the Under 23 manager keeping the likes of Greg Luer out of the team. He’s a stocky little front-man but a very willing runner who is always on the move and whose hold-up play is improving as is his finishing.

He can still be more involved in some games and you feel some might hold his lack of height as a centre-forward against him, even though he leaps well, but he has a really good attitude.

The Under 18s

Some of the “senior” Under 18 players will progress to the Under 23s this season, especially if players do go out on loan. Expect to see goalkeeper Harrison Foulkes, who joined from AFC Wimbledon like Mannion … Tall centre-half Jacob Greaves, son of ex-Tiger Mark Greaves, who can also play in midfield … strong right-back Jake Nicholls … exciting attacking left-back Matty Jacob … welsh winger Daniel Hawkins who was released by Swansea at the age of 16.

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