Stockton Town have announced five players have been promoted from the Under-18 squad into the first team.
Alfie Conway, Sam Conway, Louie Hall, Gary Mitchell and Keelan Wright have all been promoted into Stockton’s first team squad, ahead of the Anchors’ maiden season in the Northern Premier League East Division.
All five players have featured throughout pre-season and Anchors manager, Michael Dunwell believes that they have earned their chance, saying: “We felt these lads were ready to step up to the first team” this season.
Dunwell also revealed that the youngsters have “slotted” into the senior squad with relative ease throughout training and pre-season, and haven’t “not looked out of place” during friendlies ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
Iterating how important this announcement is for the club, Dunwell commented that the graduation of these five players is validation of how the management “believe in our junior teams” and want those within the junior teams to view this as evidence of a “visible pathway to the first team” at Stockton Town.
Dunwell also pointed to Adam Nicholson, Tom Coulthard and Kev Hayes as examples of former junior players who have established themselves within the senior squad, whilst Tom Portas, Shane Henry plus Dan McWilliams came through the academy and returned after exploring life at alternative clubs.
Stockton Town begin their new season away at Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday 14 August with all five youngsters praised for bringing “a lot of energy and freshness”, which surprised the established first team squad.
Dunwell though has warned that all five youngsters won’t be getting regular play time but has committed to naming at least three young players in his matchday squad this weekend, saying: “What is positive is the players trust them, not only in training but in games as well.
“They won’t play week-in, week-out as we’ve explained to them, but there’ll be three or four in the matchday squad on Saturday against Stocksbridge.”