With play suspended in the Cumberland County League until early December at least, the Reds Development squad is currently in the middle of an unwanted break from the action.
The season proper only started in October and came to a temporary halt in early November so, just as a bit of momentum had been created, the campaign is now on hold.
Like the first team squad, though, the Development group have been given training programmes to follow as individuals.
After a protracted pre-season, they eventually started the competitive stuff with optimism coupled with a touch of apprehension. For them, it was a step into the unknown and how would they react to the physical side of men’s football given their tender age.
Although the squad consists of twelve sixteen year olds, eight at seventeen and three ‘old men’ at eighteen, any fears have been unfounded and they have stood up to the challenge and competed well.
However, a mixed bag of results doesn’t give a true reflection of their performances.
“The home form has been excellent on the immaculate 4G pitch (St Benedict’s School) with two emphatic wins and a creditable draw obtained from the three matches played,” said head of Development, Brian Dawson.
The good impression created is even more commendable given that the players only came together as a group for the first time in August.
“Although it’s great to win, that’s not our main objective,” added Dawson who played and scored goals for Reds in the early 2000s.
“The aim is to provide a pool of young players to supplement the first team squad and develop them to play with the same philosophy. This will help the transition if given the opportunity to step up.
“In addition, the nucleus of our squad regularly trains with the first team which is an important factor for them as they can see a clear pathway in place.”
Having this group of players on tap has already benefitted Danny Grainger this season with Carl Lightfoot, Harry Atkinson, Matty Foster and James Bell all featuring with the seniors.
The ability within the squad came to the fore following friendly victories against both Windscale and Whitehaven first teams recently, but achieving consistency will be the group’s main aim in their league campaign. Hopefully, Lockdown won’t have knocked them out of their stride when the season eventually resumes.