18th February 2017
In our latest Academy column, we catch up with U16s coach Barry Lewtas about the progress of the youngsters and coaching sessions with Steve Heighway and Steven Gerrard.
This has been another fantastic season for the Academy so far with many of our youngsters getting first-team opportunities – something that gives our even younger players so much hope. In my role as U16s coach, I can see how much it means to these lads to put on the red shirt and have the dream of one day wearing it with pride in front of the Kop.
I was in charge of the U15s last season so it has been nice to have that continuity to take the same group at U16 level this term. You get to know the lads well, get to know their characters and get to see the areas of their game they might need to develop so we can help them along the way. The continuity works as well for them as it does for me. It’s good that I can see the things they need to improve upon while also developing the strengths they already have, and it’s working well.
We have a group of talented boys at U16 level and supporters will have seen a few of the lads making their debuts for the U18s under the tutelage of Neil Critchley. All of the boys work exceptionally hard and they commit a lot of their time and their life to training. Curtis Jones has enjoyed an extended run at U18 level in recent weeks and full credit to him. At U15 and U16 level we played him in a number of positions, which helped him to further strengthen his individual identity, and at U18 level he has played effectively as a central midfielder. He has good technical ability and is confident in possession of the ball. Curtis deserved his opportunity and has played well. He now knows he has to keep his head down and work hard in every training session to keep his place. I am excited to see where his journey takes him.