Harry Wheeler willing to give more youngsters their chance at St Albans

Gerardo Smaldone takes on former Tottenham trainee Laste Dombaxe. Picture: BOB WALKLEY

Gerardo Smaldone takes on former Tottenham trainee Laste Dombaxe. Picture: BOB WALKLEY - Credit: Archant

Harry Wheeler is hoping his selection against Hadley in the Herts Senior Cup will be the start of more and more youth team players getting a chance in the first team.

The St Albans City caretaker manager selected five youth team players for the quarter final clash, starting two of them in Gerardo Smaldone and Charlie Ward.

And he believes that giving youth team players chances in the first team is vital, and can bring great rewards for a club.

He said: “Players live on hope and what’s the point of having a youth team and U21s if you are never going to look at them.

“You might as well waste your time and get players in.

“There’s no reason just because they haven’t been at a pro club that they are not good enough.

“There’s a lot of potential in that youth team. They’ve got a good side down there.”

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He added: “I’ve known Charlie and Gerardo since they were 11. They did look nervous but they’re young-young. They’re not 19, 20; they are young boys.

“I thought they did well and they gave themselves credit. Of course, there are little bits but there always is.

“We’ve thrown them straight in and gave them their opportunity. But lads will get their opportunities more and more as they go on.”

One of the players introduced from the bench was Oran Swales, whose father Mark left his role as development manager last month.

That has led to a reshuffle in the youth section, with U18 boss Sam Mardle currently looking after both U18 and U21 teams.

But Wheeler says it could be the catalyst for building a solid base.

He said: “We will be getting someone in to help Sam; we can’t expect him to look after two teams.

“But you’ve got to get the right person in, someone who will buy into the youth, go to see other games and recruit because we are looking to build a strong U18 and U21 side that does feed into the first team.

“Now with me here we’re going to be a bit stricter with the youth side and they will play the same way we play and I will expect soon the 21s to know how they are playing and if they do step up, they will be able to fit in.”