The Future For The Whites

Last updated : 25 January 2004 By Kevin Markey
Neale Sheldon of the Stoke Whites, has followed the Leeds Youth and Reserve sides for nearly 30 years, and has stood ankle deep in mud getting drenched in rain watching the likes of Batty, Sheridan, Irwin, Aspin, Seaman and co come through the ranks.

If Robinson is sold, we have 2 raw keepers in Scott Carson and Shaun Allaway. Both these lads have experience at reserve level and both have play for England at various youth levels.

I believe Carson is ready. In defence, we have Frazer Richardson, who in my opinion is the new Paul Madeley. He is the type of player who could play anywhere across the back four or as a defensive midfielder.

Youth player Ben Parker is a prospect at left back and has England youth honours, but hasn't had experience at reserve team level.

Schoolboy Simon Walton has England youth honours and has been fast tracked to the reserve side this season, whilst still at school studying for his GCSE's, however he is currently undergoing surgery on his shoulder and will be lucky to be fit for the end of the season (but expect to see him pushing next season!)

Paul Keegan has had an up and down season in the reserves so far this season, and it would be interesting to see if he could hold his own in the big time as a holding midfielder in the Batty mould.

However, unlike Batts, he will have a crack at goal from 18-yards given the chance.

Martin Woods from Ayr in Scotland, had a couple of run outs with the first team pre-season and looked promising, however his reserve team outings have been cut short because of fringe players such as Barmby, Chapuis, Domi etc getting the nod.

Simon Johnson isn't a centre forward, never will be and doesn't want to be.
But his strongest position is as a left sided forward who is at his most dangerous running at defenders and cutting inside, it would be interesting to see if he could make the grade, since he has been a regular goal scorer at youth and reserve team level.

Do we have any big bruising centre forwards you ask? Chris Armstrong springs to mind, but he hasn't had the chance to progress via the reserves this season because of Bridges, Chapuis, Barmby and Johnson all ahead in the pecking order.

One to look out for in a couple of seasons is Kevin Smith, who has had a decent season in the U17 side.

It is hard to judge others from the U19 side such as McStay, Tyrrell, Constable, Jones, Winter, Armstrong, Woods, Reeves and Keogh whether they have a future as none of them have played much at reserve team level.

Rob Constable in defence may be worth another look. Nick Gray, (yes it is Eddie's youngest son) has quietly progressed through the youth ranks and had a few reserve outings, but I feel he hasn't set the world on fire, and wherever he plays his football, I don't think he will do much until he is 20-21, in my opinion. He is a late developer.

The U17 lads have had a good couple of seasons but besides Parker, Walton and Smith, the only lad that is ready for even a reserve outing is a midfielder Ian Morris.

So the future isn't all doom and gloom, we have some excellent young players, but are they ready to step in?