MX23RW : Wednesday, April 21 18:02:29| >> :600:1639829:1639829:

Football urged to reintegrate club-less teenagers

Scotland youth international Liam Miller is a prime example of a young player left without a club due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Football has been urged to reintegrate "hundreds" of talented young players who were left in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While restrictions on some sporting activities eased this week in England, there remain fears some teenagers will slip through the net 12 months on.

A number of scholars who turned 18 last season and would normally have been offered professional contracts found themselves the victims of cutbacks and many have struggled to get back into the game amid the difficulty in arranging trials and ongoing financial uncertainty.

Scotland youth international Liam Miller is a prime example. The 19-year-old has 15 international caps but has been without a club since Sunderland released their under-18s squad en masse around the start of the first lockdown.

Miller has been training with the under-19 squad of Northern Premier League side South Shields and working four times a week with a performance coach set up through his agent.

"After the first lockdown, even if you managed to get a trial, it was difficult when you had been off for three or four months," Miller told the PA news agency.

"I was in at Forest and Brentford but they were looking for someone older, someone who can break into the first team right away."

Miller's agent, Dave Gordon, is concerned that teenagers who found themselves without clubs because of the extraordinary circumstances do not get left behind.

"A lot of these lads were getting released because of Covid," said Gordon, group CEO at Deluxe Sports Group.

"What was really frustrating was that some clubs were saying, ordinarily we wouldn't need to look at him, we would offer him a contract, but we haven't got the money to invest, we don't know if we can sign new players. Clubs at the lower end of the pyramid were furloughing players. A lot of scouts and heads of recruitment have been furloughed.

Closed football pitches
Closed football pitches photographed through a fence in Battersea Park (Yui Mok)

"We can't even set up trials for a lot of these lads because of Covid rules. Hotels are closed too.

"Clubs have had to do what they have had to do. It's been a really testing time for everybody, but we seem to be through the worst of it and hopefully these lads are ready to go now. The testing we have done with them shows that but even now trying to get players on trial is tricky.

"Some of the lads went out to play men's football, that could have been Northern League, National League North and South, and their seasons were curtailed.

"We had a goalkeeper who left Middlesbrough and has been training with York this season and he has been called in by a Championship club. So hopefully we are seeing this cycle come to an end, with Covid tests helping.

"Some lads will have got lucky but some lads will have slipped through the net.

"I hope that the lads who were out of contract last summer and have been grafting don't get forgotten about, that we make sure we work hard for them. I would say there are hundreds of them."

Gordon's firm restructured its business to help the young players.

"We had to bring in a full-time head of performance who is setting them nutritional plans and training plans and, when it's safe and Covid-compliant, been doing sessions, whether it's outdoors or on Zoom, and doing testing," he added. "Fortunately, these are young fit lads.

"One of our agents has come from a teaching background and has re-jigged half of his duties so he is head of education and welfare. One of the main things he is doing is warming them up for life after football and usually that doesn't really happen until they are 32 or 33. These are 18 and 19-year-old lads.

"We have a mental-health nurse the lads can reach out to and we make sure we keep in regular contact. The best thing we can do is support them in every way we can.

"These young lads have had everything taken away from them and we have to help them build everything back up."

ID:441276: cacheID:441276:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:7615:
Latest coronavirus PSA banner
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Sunderland's Lynden Gooch scores against Tranmere Rovers in the EFL Trophy final on March 14, 2021
Read Next:
Lee Johnson delighted with Wembley success
>
Read more about Liam Miller Football

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
Premier League
Championship
Scottish Premiership
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Primeira Liga
Coupe de France
Turkish Super Lig
Greek Superleague
Swiss Super League
Ukrainian Premier League
Danish Superliga
Segunda Division
2.Bundesliga
Copa Libertadores
Copa Sudamericana
AFC Champions League
Chinese Super League playoffs
Women's Super League
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Hull City432581075354083
2Peterborough UnitedPeterborough422471173403379
3Sunderland421915863362772
4Lincoln CityLincoln412191163422172
5Blackpool4119111153361768
6Charlton AthleticCharlton4118121163511266
7Oxford UnitedOxford Utd431981667531465
8Portsmouth421981558461265
9Gillingham43188175957262
10MK Dons431710165858061
11Ipswich TownIpswich421710154144-361
12Accrington StanleyAccrington421710155561-661
13Doncaster RoversDoncaster41186175857160
14Crewe AlexandraCrewe421610164956-758
15Fleetwood TownFleetwood421511164437756
16Plymouth ArgylePlymouth431411185173-2253
17Burton Albion421410185465-1152
18Shrewsbury TownShrewsbury411214154550-550
19AFC Wimbledon421212185064-1448
20Wigan AthleticWigan43138224969-2047
21Northampton TownNorthampton431110223861-2343
22Rochdale421012205372-1942
23Swindon TownSwindon43124275079-2940
24Bristol Rovers43108254067-2738

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!