Matlock Town’s personal touch rubbing off on academy players

editorial image

Ex-Sheffield United and Rotherham trainee Ethan Knowles believes the Gladiators are producing quality young talent because of a personal touch in their academy.

Matlock Town have recently sold academy products Zak Brunt and Max Hunt to EFL Championship sides Sheffield United and Derby County respectively.

Knowles credits the coaching staff involved at the academy in developing young players who are going on to play at a professional level.

Comparing his time at Doncaster to Matlock, Knowles said: “I just enjoy it more at Matlock, I wasn’t enjoying it a lot at Doncaster, but the coaches and stuff at Matlock, it feels like they are more involved with you personally.

“This club gives you a lot of opportunities to go places and they always try to improve you, try to get you to higher clubs.”

Knowles believes more players can follow in the footsteps of Hunt and Brunt at Matlock. The 17-year-old said: “There’s quite a few players in this club who could go on to quite a high level, such as Ashton [Hall].”

Hall, the captain of the academy, has made five senior appearances so far this season, four of which were starts.

This is partially due to the injury crisis Matlock have faced in recent weeks which has seen 11 players sidelined.

Whilst such a situation may give first team manager Dave Frecklington a headache, the subsequent selection dilemma gives promising academy players a golden opportunity to showcase their ability.

Knowles made his senior debut on October 29th in a 1-0 loss away to Basford United in the Integro League Cup second round, playing for 57 minutes before being substituted.

Reflecting on his inclusion in the first team, the winger said: “All the players they always try and get you to calm down and they always encourage you.

“We had four academy players, three of them played, one of them was on the bench.

“He [Frecklington] is getting the academy involved and the experience you can get from the first team is very useful.”