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Youngsters for Town!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 23/05/2001

Grimsby Town have started their rebuild of the youth system with the announcement that eight young players will be signing professional forms on Monday which will be a major part of manager Lennie Lawrence's mission to secure the long term future of the club.

Under the Buckley regime, this area of the club's operations was allowed to run down and these new moves appear to be to address that and place more emphasis on the youth development programme.

Pointing out that Jonathon Rowan was the only player given a professional contract last summer and that there has been little productivity for the last few years, Paul Wilkinson, who is himself a product of the Grimsby youth system and now the reserves team coach, told the Grimsby Telegraph "Because of the shortage in the last two or three years it was felt that we needed to do this now."

"We hope that we can produce our own - that's the aim. That's what we've always lived on here and we need to keep producing from within"

John Oster in 1997 and Gary Croft in 1966 are the only profitable exports Grimsby have produced in recent years.

"You're looking to develop lads that will be knocking on the first team door." Said Wilkinson. "They've shown promise when they've been here but we hope they will become strong enough. They know when they come here, that if they're good enough, they will get a chance."

"We want a good, strong and youthful reserve team to help push the first team."

Manager Lawrence supported that view adding "Initially they're for the Reserves, but then we'll see. We want a group of players in that age range (18-21) and if one or two come through, that's as much as you can expect."

Referring to the number of trialists who came to Blundell Park last season, Wilkinson explained, "There's probably been too many at times but it was a necessity because we needed to strengthen the base."

"Next year we'll be more selective and bring in people for the positions that we're really looking for. It doesn't mean to say there won't be trialists, but we'll be more particular."

Also announced today is that the Mariners will now need another coach to work alongside Ian Knight and Paul Wilkinson

The Players

Chris Thompson Striker from Liverpool who scored two goals in two games for the Reserves in March and is the only one of the group who is signing a two-year deal, the rest being handed 12-month terms.

Ronal Ermes, Goalkeeper from Feyenoord

Robbie Bruscher, Midfielder from Feyenoord

Simon Ford, Centre back from Charlton

David Morgan, Left back from Sunderland

Chris Bolder, from Hull City

Graham Hockless, from Hull City

Ross Thompson,Midfielder from Scunthorpe who, at 17, will be eligible for the youth team.

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