Youth coach Gould praises clubs

Suffolk youth team manager Andy Gould has praised the county's non-league clubs for increasingly giving young local players a chance in their first teams.

Stuart Watson

By Stuart Watson

Suffolk youth team manager Andy Gould has praised the county's non-league clubs for increasingly giving young local players a chance in their first teams.

Gould, who manages both the under-16 and under-18 Suffolk sides, has enjoyed a great deal of success since he first got involved with the county set-up in 2004.

First acting as assistant manager to the now Needham Market manager Danny Laws, Suffolk's under-18s won the FA County Youth Cup in 2004/05 for the first time in the competitions long history.

Since replacing Laws as manager in 2005/06, Gould saw his under-18 side lose on penalties in last season's final at Bradford City, while they are already in the semi-finals of this year's competition.

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Gould said: “If there is any secret behind our success it is probably the fact that many of our squad are playing first team football at Ridgeons and Ryman League level.

“They are used to playing against good players, when they come to us it is almost like they are big game players. The fact that we could make three finals in four years speaks for itself.

“The local clubs are making a massive contribution to our success. Bury Town obviously led the way when they linked up with West Suffolk College and Woodbridge followed suit with Copleston.

“It is not just those two teams though, although Kirkley haven't got a specific youth development program like that, they clearly invest in their young players. They have had five teenagers in their first team this year and that is undoubtedly the way forward.

“I think if you look back five years that wasn't the case. The youngsters with ability weren't being given the chance at senior level.

“Now though, you look at the likes of Liam Trotter (Ipswich Town) and Ian Miller (ex-Ipswich Town and now Darlington) coming up through Bury and you realise that there is talent out there if they are given the opportunity to progress.

“The liaison between the county side and clubs is growing stronger and stronger and the squad is no longer made up just from players in the Ipswich area.

“I don't think there is any dispute that Suffolk youth football has been put on the map over the past few years and I don't see any reason why that should ebb away.”

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