June 18 2013 Latest news:
By Carl Marston
Friday, April 20, 2012
THE lack of regular competitive reserve team football has been a bone of contention at Colchester United, and other Football League clubs, in past seasons.
But there is a chance that the U’s could be playing in a new under-21 league, ready for next term.
The Essex club are moving to their impressive new training headquarters at Tiptree this summer, and are also hoping to be granted Category Two status as an Academy – the same level targeted by neighbours Ipswich Town.
A Category Two Academy could see the U’s fielding a team in a proposed new under-21 league, which would give up-and-coming youngsters a good platform to develop their talents, in preparation for first team football.
Speaking at yesterday’s weekly press conference, ahead of tomorrow’s game at Bournemouth, John Ward revealed plans for a new under-21 league.
“Next year we are probably going to put a team together of under-21s, that is the progress we are trying to make underneath (the first team),” explained Ward.
“One or two of them (young professionals) will be involved around the first team next season, but they won’t play 46 games. We have two years to work on them.
“If we can get this Category Two status, in terms of our centre of excellence, then we believe we would play in an under-21 league.
“That (league) would also allow two or three over-aged players to play, as well as being a good development for the group.
“We have been offered a reserve team league, but that will be extremely widespread, with teams like Forest Green and Brighton included.
“The other one would be a national under-21 league, which would be a really strong league and a regular one.
“Those things still have to be developed in the football world, but hopefully we could be involved in it, which would push this club on.
“But it would be an exciting prospect, for a club like ours.”