ECHOSPORT talks to Southend United's youth team coach Danny Heath about the club's new youth team scholars.
Luke Currullo, goalkeeper.
Danny Heath: “Luke signed for the academy during his under 15s season. He demonstrates the ability to produce very good shot stopping saves and also the ability to begin team attacks with quick and accurate distribution.
“Luke gained valuable experiences last season as an under 16 player by getting some minutes in the under 18s and he produced an excellent performance in the Merit League game away at Luke said: "I really enjoy it at Southend. I think it’s a great academy and I have been given lots of opportunities to play up (age-groups) when I’m ready"
Smai Norman, defender.
“Danny Heath: “Smai was originally in the shadow squad from the under 10 age group and he got signed into the academy as an under 13 after a successful trial. “Smai is a defender that can play in the centre of the defence or as a left back.
“He demonstrates controlled aggression to defend with interceptions and tackles.
“In possession Smai possesses very good technical ability with his left foot to play forwards with quality passing over short and long distances.
“Smai also gained valuable experiences last season by getting a good amount of match minutes in the Merit League for the under 18s.
“Smai said: “I joined the academy at under 13 and I have loved the journey so far to the under 18 level. I can’t wait to kick on this new season"
Romeo Ebondo, defender.
Danny Heath: “Romeo got signed into the academy as an under 16 player after he played a game against the academy for Arsenal while on trial for them.
“Romeo predominantly plays in the centre of the defence where he demonstrates a great passion and desire to defend and to stop the opposition from scoring with interceptions, tackles and blocks.
“Romeo also shows a positive attitude to play forwards by running the ball into space and to then produce a pass into forwards moving players/spaces so that the team can continue the momentum of the attack.
“Romeo said: "My time at the club has been amazing so far.
“Although my time at the club has been short, I’ve learned a lot from the coaches Danny (Heath) and Lewis (Dallas) who are always helping me improve on my game and I’m thankful for that.
“When I played my first competitive game for the youth team as an under 16 against Gillingham, I quickly realised how important it is to work hard for your team-mates and to win.
“I’m excited to be around a full-time professional environment where I can develop my game and hopefully go on to play for the first team.”
Jake Huet, defender.
Danny Heath: “Jake got signed as an under nine academy player after being in the shadow squad pre-academy under sevens and eights age groups.
“Jake is currently working ever so hard to come back from a long term injury and he has shown a hard working and positive attitude to do this.
“Jake predominantly plays as a centre back and possesses great tactical understanding both in possession and out of possession.
“We are all looking forward to Jake being back out on the pitch again and although Jake is currently out injured he has been chosen to be a part of the under 18s four players leadership group as he is showing great leadership skills to ensure that his team and team mates are maintaining their standards, values and beliefs both on and off the pitch.
Jake said: "I feel the club has been totally invested in me and my journey and have helped me improve on and off the pitch. I am excited to what the future holds at the club.”
Alfie Terry, central midfielder.
“Danny Heath: “Alfie got signed into the academy as an under 11 after a successful trial period.
“Alfie is a player that can effectively play as a holding midfield player or as an attacking midfielder. In both roles, Alfie demonstrates a strong and committed attitude to win the ball back or stop the opposition’s attacks with clean and controlled aggressive tackles as well as showing good stamina to get up and down the pitch to make forward runs and recovery runs.
“In possession Alfie shows a very good range of passing to create goal scoring opportunities for team mates and it was pleasing to see Alfie get on the score sheet in the recent pre season friendly against Dartford as this is an area of this game that he wants to develop.
Alfie said: “My time at Southend so far has been a very enjoyable experience full of many great moments on and off the pitch and I’ve learnt so much during my time.
“Bettering myself by the small percentages everyday has made me a better player due to the guidance and constant advise the staff have supplied to create the best version of myself.
“I joined in the under 11s season and I have loved every second at the club especially playing on tours , in stadiums and playing against footballing giants like Chelsea and Liverpool. I hope to keep performing for the u18s and have a successful season just like the previous and keep learning from the first team and bettering myself everyday".
Alfie Bangs, central midfielder.
Danny Heath: “Alfie got signed into the academy as an under 15 after a successful trial period.
“Alfie possesses a great left foot and demonstrates very good technical ability to being able to receive and dribble the ball in tight areas and to also pass the ball with speed and accuracy over short and long range distances.
“Out of possession Alfie shows good communication to organise others and also an intensity to put pressure on the opposition when he is the nearest player to the ball or to defend away from the ball by marking and tracking runners when he is not the nearest defender to the ball.”
Alfie said: “I signed into the academy at u15s and have enjoyed my time at Southend United. I have been able to experience playing against many different top level teams which I’ve learnt a lot from and also my coaches have helped progress my development a lot".
Ronnie Blake, central midfielder.
Danny Heath: “Ronnie got signed into the academy as an under 10 after a successful trial period.
“Ronnie is currently out injured but he has worked ever so hard with a positive attitude to get close to the return of training and playing again.
“Ronnie is a box to box midfielder who possesses a great left foot.
“He demonstrates the ability to attack on the front foot by dribbling and running with the ball with speed and control which puts defenders on the back foot.
“To continue the momentum of the attack Ronnie also shows good consistency to produce an end product to create or take goalscoring opportunities. We are all looking forward to seeing Ronnie back playing .
“Ronnie said: "Throughout my academy journey I’ve experienced ups and downs which therefore allowed me to grow stronger mentally and physically and become one step closer to my dream of creating a successful career as a footballer".
Max Fiddes, forward.
Danny Heath: “Max is a player that signed into the academy as an under nine after being in the shadow squad pre-academy under sevens and eights age groups.
“Max is a player that can play up top as a forward one or as part of a front two and can also play as a number 10.
“Max possesses excellent movement to be able to receive the ball in space and also goal scoring positions.
“When in possession of the ball he shows good decision making with his technical actions as to whether pass, dribble, shoot or cross but whichever one Max decides to do he is very clinical to either score himself or create chances for others.
“Out of possession Max shows a hardworking attitude to put the opposition under constant pressure and to not allow them space and time to begin/build their attack comfortably from their defensive third.
“Max has also been chosen to be a part of the under 18s four players leadership group and he is showing great leadership skills to ensure that his team and team mates are maintaining their standards, values and beliefs both on and off the pitch.”
Max said: "I have really enjoyed my time at Southend and feel it’s a safe and supportive environment."
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