Gregg Broughton offers insight into the Canaries' AcademyWE are very pleased to announce we've offered professional deals to three of our scholars.
The first of the trio is Ray Grant, a player who a lot of the supporters will be familiar with because he’s been a regular in the Under-21s for the last 12-18 months.
Ray is a very intelligent ball-playing central midfielder and a Scotland international at Under-18 level. He has that mindset we look for in the Academy of never being happy with his development, always looking to push harder and always looking to learn.
Secondly, we have Michee Efete – a player who has really had a great season, and on the back of his development deserves this offer. He’s comfortable playing anywhere in a back four and he dominates players defensively one v one, it’s very rare that you see him getting beaten.
The final one is Jamie Eaton-Collins, pictured above. It’s always good to get a Suffolk boy over the line! Jamie is an attacking player who can play anywhere in a front three or just behind the striker. His game is about pace and trickery. He’s been unfortunate with injuries since Christmas, but we wanted to back what we had seen in the first 18 months of his scholarship.
We are also delighted to bring news of long-term contracts for two of the brightest prospects in our Academy – both of whom will sign their deals before the crowd prior to tonight’s first-team game against Middlesbrough.
Under-15s Bilal Kamal and Glenn Middleton (below) both joined the Club at the age of 12. Bilal was spotted playing grassroots football in London, and the scout Ryan Gordon phoned me on that evening to say that there was a player here that I needed to see straight away. We brought him into Colney for some training games where he did very well, and he was signed on the back of that.
Glenn arrived via a very different route. He was scouted playing for Northampton Town as an Under-13. We had four reports done on him, put a bid in with Northampton, and he moved to Norwich at a similar time to Bilal.
He is a left-sided striker who can play as one of two or wide in a three. He’s played up in age groups consistently, and his game is based on his dribbling ability. It’s great to see Darren Huckerby take him under his wing and really work one-to-one with him. There’s no coincidence that Glenn’s improvement has come since Darren has been mentoring him.
Bilal is a central midfielder, who is two-footed and excellent in possession. It’s very hard to knock him off the ball, and he has a great mindset in how he approaches training and games.
Without Category One status, we wouldn’t have been able to sign those players because both would have been outside the distance allowed. Glenn was the first player we’d ever signed from another professional club into the Academy.
We wanted to ensure that the players with the most potential at the Club are tied down, to look after them and to look after the football club.
The deals go beyond their scholarships and into professional contracts. They’re both internationals too – Glenn has been playing up a year for Scotland, and now he’s in the group of 24 that will be cut to 18 for the Under-17s European Championships next month. We found out on Wednesday that Bilal has made the England Under-15s squad for a tournament they’re taking part in in Italy next week, so that’s a great opportunity for him as well.
The Under-15s is a very strong age-group in general. Last season as Under-14s, they finished third nationally in a Premier League tournament and there are other boys in the group who have received international recognition.
Brandon Oddy has played for Wales Under-15s, Fergal Hale-Brown has made the England training squad for goalkeepers, and Alan Fleming has made the England training squad as a striker. It’s a group we’ve got a lot of high hopes for, and we hope that if they continue to work hard a lot of these boys will receive scholarship offers sooner rather than later.
Our Under-21s have a busy weekend, with a trip to West Ham tonight followed by another Carrow Road game on Monday against Everton.
The Under-21s league is a crazy league. We had a position on Monday where if we’d have beaten Sunderland we’d have gone second, whereas if we had lost we’d have been three points off the second relegation place.
The crowds have made an undoubted difference to our home form. The emphasis now is on how high we can finish up the table and whether we can qualify for European competition again next season and a positive result against Everton will put us in a position to do that.
If we can encourage the same size and noise of support, would be fantastic.
Under-21s vs Everton, Monday April 20, 7pm
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