Chester Football Club are pleased to announce that five Academy graduates have signed senior deals at the Deva.
James Cottrell, Stuart Crilly, Louis Hayes, George Macready and Harry Molyneux have all put pen to paper to continue their development with the football club.
These deals have been made possible thanks to the fantastic support of Swettenham Chemists, who are the Academy’s Principal Sponsors and our West Stand Sponsors – pioneering the Family Zone at the ground.
It is likely James, Stuart, Louis, George and Harry will all be heading out on loan with flexible recall clauses in order to gain them minutes – alongside increased contact hours training within our hybrid model.
Cottrell is a central midfielder, who made his FA Youth Cup debut for the Blues as a 15-year-old in the famous win over Fleetwood Town. James, from Helsby, was previously with Stoke City before completing a scholarship with Chester FC.
Crilly, from Liverpool, is renowned as a versatile midfielder who has an eye for goal – he joined the club from Oldham in March 2017. Stuart made a senior appearance in the Cheshire Senior Cup last season at Winsford United – and was an unused sub in the FA Cup win against City of Liverpool.
Louis Hayes, from Halewood, joined the club from Blackburn Rovers in May 2017. He is a physical midfielder who has also impressed during pre-season at centre back in Chester FC XI fixtures at Cheadle and Rylands.
Macready is a left-footed centre back from Chester. The defender caught the eye with a fantastic assist for Matty Hughes in the 2-1 win over Bangor 1876 earlier in the month.
Molyneux is a left back with fantastic technical ability – chipping in with goals and assists and known for being dangerous over a dead ball. The full back was on loan with Rylands last season as they won the North West Counties First Division South.
Blues Joint Boss Anthony Johnson said: “All five of the lads were instrumental in the success the youth team had over the last couple of years. They’ve all worked tirelessly for this opportunity and we’re sure they’re all ready to take the next step.”
Ian Swettenham had this to say on today’s announcement: “This is the next step in developing the Academy pathway to the mutual benefit of players and club. We will now have seven first year Academy graduates (including Cain and Lloyd) compared to four last season. The period from 18 to 21 is so important in the development of young players and this new initiative will ensure we give these exceptional young men every opportunity to progress in the Chester FC family. Swettenham Chemists are proud to be able to fund these players and I must thank the Managers for fully supporting this new approach.”
Academy Head Coach Calum McIntyre said: “We are absolutely delighted to be in a position to retain these young players for the coming season. This ties in perfectly with a return to daytime training for our first team squad which increases development opportunities for all our Academy Graduates. Not every player that demonstrates an appropriate level of potential in our youth team is necessarily ready to play week in, week out in our first team. We’re really aware of this and we believe moving to this model allows us to retain a group of U20s in a full-time model, ensuring they are playing senior football every weekend.”
“This isn’t an overnight decision. Throughout my time here we have always been aware of the need for something to bridge the gap between Youth Team and First Team football and the link between the Academy and the First Team is as strong as it has ever been at the club. A stand alone Under 21 group isn’t the right option for us, playing in sub standard leagues with a group size that doesn’t benefit the individuals. We will now have 9 players in the First Team Squad aged 20 or below having come through the Academy. We believe the best way to develop these players is ensure they are playing senior football and if that isn’t in our first team we will be getting them the right loan at the right club and monitor it properly. Equally, we’ll have a series of games in house around the training schedule that will allow us to monitor these boys.”
Congratulations, James, Stuart, Louis, George and Harry!