FOOTBALL: ‘Great opportunity’ for youngsters to develop at Spalding United

SHAKE ON IT: From left, Spalding United reserve-team manager James Langford, under-21 development team assistant boss Graham Almond, under-21 development team manager Lewis Thorogood, first-team boss Chris Rawlinson and chairman Andy Gay at the Sir Halley Stewart Field on Tuesday night. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG090517-213TW
SHAKE ON IT: From left, Spalding United reserve-team manager James Langford, under-21 development team assistant boss Graham Almond, under-21 development team manager Lewis Thorogood, first-team boss Chris Rawlinson and chairman Andy Gay at the Sir Halley Stewart Field on Tuesday night. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG090517-213TW

Youngsters will get a chance to shine at Spalding United next season.

The Tulips are joining the Lincolnshire FA Under-21 Development League with midweek matches.

The key aim is sourcing those trialists regionally and bringing them in.

Lewis Thorogood

Boss Lewis Thorogood and assistant Graham Almond have moved from Boston United to take charge of the team which can also feature trialists, reserves and first-team squad members.

Thorogood explained: “We have been looking after the under-21s at Boston for the last two seasons.

“We had a conversation before the end of the season about setting up a similar scheme at Spalding.

“Boston are doing something different with the set-up and we totally respect that decision.

“We have an opportunity here to work with first-team manager Chris Rawlinson and bring in some decent players.

“We’ll look at lads who have been released from Football League club academies and local players in the United Counties League.

“We can coach them at a decent standard so they will be ready for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s First Division South.

“I have got an extensive knowledge of the non-League game from National League North level.

“It’s an opportunity for young players to progress and the club can run an under-21 team with a tight budget.

“Chris will keep a core group of players and we can add a bit of quality to that.

“We’re coming into the club to support him and the first-team squad.

“Hopefully, we will have strength in depth which can help the club win promotion.

“As well as playing in the midweek league, we’ll top it up with friendlies against under-23 academy sides from Football League clubs.

“We can register trialists half an hour before kick-off and we’ll also use first-team players coming back from injuries.

“The key aim is sourcing those trialists regionally and bringing them in.

“We have an exciting set of players here in pre-season and we will working together with the first-team squad.

“We’ll look at the reserves in the Peterborough League as well as we are keen to work closely with them.

“A few players from the under-18s and reserves will step into the under-21 team on a regular basis because we want to give an opportunity for those youngsters.

“We need to bridge that gap between the first team and reserves.

“We can offer that elite element with coaching and source local youngsters.

“There are players in the area who might have slipped under the radar so this is a great opportunity for them to play for Spalding.”

Almond added: “We can train with the first-team squad on set-pieces and tactics so the players fit in when required.

“Who knows, we might find a striker who scores two goals in two games at the end of the season to get Spalding over the line for promotion.

“We are supporting the first-team squad as much as we can.”

Meanwhile, Rawlinson has named former Holbeach United centre-half Matt Easton as his assistant.

Rawlinson said: “I have known him for a number of years and he’s a good coach in youth development, having also worked with England’s under-16s in an analyst role.

“He’s excited to come into senior men’s football and, as a club, we have three really good coaches with UEFA licences who can bring the best out of our young players.”

Spalding are also looking to introduce an ‘A team’ below reserve level.