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Jon Waldron: My views on the U's
How rewarding it must be for academy manager Tony Humes and his staff that so many of Colchester United’s young starlets are getting a taste of first-team action.
So often we hear managers state how they want to give youth a chance, only to go out and sign a more experienced player and block their pathway.
On the day of his appointment as U’s boss a year ago, Joe Dunne stated his intention to give the club’s promising teenagers the opportunity to show that they are capable of shining on a bigger stage.
He has lived up to his word.
Dunne’s view is simply that if you’re good enough, then you’re old enough.
Sammie Szmodics was the latest fledgling to come off the U’s conveyor belt and cut his teeth in League One, after appearing in the second half of their 1-1 draw with Bristol City.
Szmodics, a bright young attacking midfielder who has shone for the U’s under-18s and under-21s teams over recent weeks, joins the likes of Tosin Olufemi, Freddie Ladapo and Mason Spence in tasting league action for the U’s this season.
The likes of Jack Simmons, Billy Roast, Shaun Phillips and Michael O’Donoghue have also been part of the U’s first-team squad since the start of the season, following in the footsteps of players such as Drey Wright and Alex Gilbey who have already established themselves at senior level.
Colchester’s failure to secure Category Two status was undoubtedly a blow to their hopes of producing talented young players.
But the U's are determined to stick to their objective of producing young players who are capable not only of challenging for senior football at Colchester but also beyond.
Of course, this is only the beginning for the likes of Szmodics.
But with a manager in charge of the first team who is prepared to put his faith in young players there is nothing stopping them from fulfilling their potential, sooner rather than later.
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