22nd Jan, 2020

Friendlies confirmed as Town announce youth team merger

Ben Tyler 7th Jun, 2019

RUGBY Town will face a Coventry City under-23 side as part of their pre-season preparations for the 2019/20 UCL Premier Division season.

The Sky Blues will visit Butlin Road on Tuesday July 23 as the standout fixture from the pre-season friendlies announced this week, with Rugby last facing Coventry back in 2016 in a 2-1 defeat, with David Kolodynski scoring the opener.

Newly promoted MFL Premier Division side Racing Club Warwick and Southern League Division One Central side Bedworth United will also visit Valley on Saturday July 13 and 27 respectively.

Town are set for visits to MFL Premier Division’s Highgate United on Tuesday July 16, Sutton Coldfield of the Northern Premier League South East on Saturday July 20, and Evesham United from the Southern League Division One South on Thursday July 25.

Following their busy schedule, the season will officially kick off on Saturday August 3 with the first game of the league season, followed by an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round fixture the following weekend.

Meanwhile, the club have formed a merger between the youth team and the club’s academy for the forthcoming season.

12 months on from launching the club’s academy of football, Valley hope that the move will help develop more scholars through the club, who can progress through the ranks and provide a clear link to the first team.

The club’s under-18s team will once more play their fixtures in the Midland Floodlit Youth League for the 2019/20 season.

Academy manager Liam O’Neill said: “This is another step forward for us and will provide our young scholars with the perfect platform to develop in a full-time environment through the ranks at the club.

“There is a great pathway for the talent we have here now – from our two English Colleges FA squads into the Floodlit League youth team, through our National League under-19s squad and then hopefully into the first team.”

Coaching the youth team next season on a full-time basis will be the current academy assistant head coach Will Grocott, joined by goalkeeping coach and head of recruitment Scott Dutton.

Richard Blythe – a former Valley player, will also assist the pair in a part-time role.

The youth team personnel changes mean that Simon Heeley, who managed the youth side last term, departs the club.

“Simon came in and did a good job at short notice in what were very testing circumstances,” said O’Neill.

“We thank him for all his endeavour and enthusiasm in the role and wish him the very best of luck in the future.”

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