Meet our new U18s players.
The 2015/16 season has been another campaign of progress when it comes to introducing home grown players into the first team ranks.
Whilst the likes of Alex Gilbey and Frankie Kent have been around the first team picture for a couple of seasons now, this campaign has seen Kane Vincent-Young, Femi Akinwande and Louis Dunne all make positive strides into men's football.
The production line never stops turning though and, with the future in mind, nine players have been offered scholarship places at Colchester United for next season;
George Phillips is a goalkeeper who spent a number of years at Arsenal before successfully trialling here towards the end of the season within our U18s squad. George immediately gelled with his new team-mates and demonstrated strong communication skills to compliment his shot-stopping and distribution techniques. (no pic)
George Keys hails from Ipswich, where he played his early football within their Academy before joining Colchester as an Under 12. George has proved himself over his five seasons here to be a tenacious defender who is capable of playing at right-back and centre back.
Shakeem Ferlisi is a left back who only joined the club this season following a successful trial period. Previously, Shakeem had played his football at grass-roots level in London and was attending our Elite Coaching centre at Caterham School in Ilford, from where he was recommended to the Academy.
Matthew Boiling is a defender who was picked up after leaving Brighton & Hove Albion earlier in the season having impressed against Colchester U16s in a fixture. An accomplished centre back who has shown good reading of the game whilst being comfortable in possession. (no pic)
Oliver Kensdale is from Colchester and has followed the pathways of Sammie Szmodics and Louis Dunne in that he has been with Colchester United from the age of 8 and progressed through the different age groups to earn his scholarship. Oliver has spent all of this time operating in either the centre of midfield or at the heart of the defence and it is in the last two seasons that he has excelled as a centre back and leader.
Like George Phillips, Rob Howard joined Colchester United towards the end of the season from Arsenal having also spent time playing for Southend in his younger years. Rob is hard-working / tough-tackling midfielder, adept at breaking up opposition attacks and marked his U18s debut v Barnsley with the opening goal in a 2-0 win (no pic)
Tom Carlton is an attacking midfielder who is a year older than the other 8 players so will join the club as a 17 year old. Tom spent his schoolboy years playing for Chelsea and West Ham, but having dropped out of professional football briefly, he performed well playing for Dover U19s and following a trial period with the U’s was offered registration. (no pic)
Dean Ager is a local boy who has been with Colchester United since joining the U10s. As one of the leading players in his age group he joined the Thurstable School Football Programme when it was launched in 2011 and about to compete his fifth season in the programme before joining the football club full-time in July. A creative attacking midfielder, Dean has scored 24 times for the U16s this season.
Tiptree-based centre-forward, Callum Jones has enjoyed an outstanding season at U16s level, scoring 33 goals in 29 games (including hat-tricks against Birmingham and Cardiff) as well as scoring at both U17s and U18s levels during the season. Like Dean Ager, Callum is a product of the Thurstable School Programme and has been at Colchester United since the U10s age group.
All of these lads will be joining the club in July with the ambition to emulate the likes of Alex Gilbey, Drey Wright, Tosin Olufemi, Macaulay Bonne, Frankie Kent, Tom Lapslie, Sammie Szmodics and Louis Dunne in performing well enough in U18s fixtures to break into the U21s squad and hopefully the first team.