New Zealander and Irishman to Join Academy Ranks
Wednesday, 8th May 2013 11:02
Tommy Smith won’t be the only New Zealand international at the club next season with young midfielder Monty Patterson one of two further recruits to the Blues academy, along with Irish striker Shane McLoughlin.
The academy recently announced eight new scholars who will start in the summer with the two further additions set to join them subject to the final paperwork being completed.
Academy head of recruitment Steve McGavin told TWTD: “One’s called Monty Patterson and the other one’s called Shane McLoughlin. One’s from New Zealand, one’s from the Republic of Ireland.”
Patterson recently made a big impression at the Oceania Football Confederation U17 Championship in Vanuatu, where he won the Golden Ball as joint-top scorer with seven goals in five games, including a hat-trick in a 9-0 thrashing of the Cook Islands.
The young All Whites retained their title and qualified for the FIFA U17 World Cup in the UAE in October and November.
McGavin has high hopes for the 16-year-old from Auckland: “He’s a midfield player. He’s going to be a really good player. I really, really like him.”
McLoughlin is one of two Irish frontmen joining as scholars this summer with his international strike partner Cemal Ramadan having already been announced amongst the earlier recruits.
McGavin says he’s off to catch them in action for their country in a UEFA U16 development tournament in Dublin over the weekend: “Shane is an U16 Republic of Ireland international who is with St Brendan’s Park [in Kerry] at the moment.
“He’s a striker. I’m going to watch him this weekend when he’ll probably be playing up front with Cemal.
“All being well they’ll be with us in July. We really like the group that’s coming in with these two as well. We’re looking forward to getting them in in July.”
While most in football get a break through the close season, the process of identifying new talent never stops – “No, full on still through the summer!” – with McGavin and academy coach Steve Foley off to the Cayman Islands later this month.
He says the link-up started during his predecessor's time at the club: “They rang [former academy recruitment officer] Malcolm Moore and asked if someone could go and watch. We sent a scout and now the scout has been over twice.
“When I came into the job and asked if they could bring some boys over. So they came over with seven boys of which two U14s did very well. They’re very serious about giving boys the opportunity to come to the UK, come to a club and develop a partnership.
“We’ve come to an agreement that we would have a look at their best players as long as it didn’t cost us anything, so it’s really a no-lose for us. But obviously, for it to be successful, we’ve got to get players through it.”
With the Cayman Islands having a population of just under 55,000 and their national side ranked 196th in the world, there’s no expectation of filling the academy with players from the British Overseas Territory, but if just one makes it McGavin would consider the tie-up a success.
“The first trip will be for us to assess what they’ve got there, Steve will be coaching and the itinerary is pretty full-on,” he said.
“Then in pre-season they’ll be coming back with some boys and then the plan is that in February we will take a team over there, one of the age groups.
“Next year the plan is that we would host a summer camp out there for all the kids on the island which would involve some of our academy coaches.
“But we’ve got to stress, for it to be credible, there’s got to be the quality of players, that’s the key. I’ve said to them that if we can get one player through in the next three years that will be credible.”
Meanwhile, a Town U17 squad is off to Belgium to play in a tournament at KSC Lokeren this weekend.
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