Senior Phase Development Coach Edu Rubio is excited by the potential of this season’s crop of Under-18s, which has nine new additions for 2017/18.
Delsin Ackom, Dylan Asonganyi, Jay Bird, Jack Hourican-Harvey, Alfie Jones, Charlie Pattison, Matthew Sorinola and Jenson Wright have become first-year scholars, while Liam Sole has arrived at the Club as a second year.
They join Bradley Bell, Joe Evans, Tommy Hope, David Kasumu, Nathan Pickworth and Finn Tapp to form this season’s Under-18s team.
“I’m very excited,” Rubio told mkdons.com. “We’ve got players who we’ve been nurturing at the Club since they were nine, 10-years-old and we’ve also got a couple of new additions that trialled with us at the end of the season.
“We value every single one of them. All of them have the opportunity at MK Dons and all of them have the opportunity to fulfil that pathway. There are reasons to be excited because there are a number of prospects here who have the potential to be in the first team one day.”
The young Dons prepared for this upcoming season with a trip to Dusseldorf, where the team worked through intense training days, played a game against local opposition and enjoyed a number of team-bonding sessions.
Rubio believes it was an invaluable experience for the squad. He said: “Last week’s trip to Germany highlighted the potential of this group. It was 24/7 with them and they were very professional and responsible.
“We did many more things than just training and playing games. We had a couple of team-bonding exercises and the hotel a lot of things for them to do. Once we had completed all of our training sessions and games, we also went to have a look around and did a stadium tour.
“It was important for us to see the boys off the grass as well as on it – how the interact with each other and cope with certain demands. They were spot on, so it will also be good to see how they cope in a full-time environment this season.
“The game was very good as well – we managed to get a good result. Most importantly we managed to get through it without any injuries – everyone is fit and ready for when it counts.”
“When it counts” is today’s season-opener against Cambridge United at Woughton-on-the-Green.
While results take a back seat to performances and development at Under-18s level, Rubio still wants to see a competitive edge to his side in 2017/18 and hopes they can begin their season in a positive fashion.
“In this pre-season we’ve looked really good so hopefully we can take that momentum into the season – when it counts.
“In Under-18s, it’s all about performances to make sure they get ready for when it counts, which is in the first team, but is also about being competitive because winning is also part of development.