Former Jacks youngsters return home

Former Jacks youngsters return home

Posted on November 19, 2016 in 'News'

With pre-season just around the corner it’s been a busy time for head coach Dale McCulloch as he looks to strengthen his squad for 2017.

The Coach has been delighted the way things have been going, with 20’s coach Mark Scanlan and new 18’s coach Dean Pickering boosting the coaching stocks, and signing defender Nathan Diaz.

McCulloch is excited by the talented youngsters the club have, and he gave a number of teenage players their first team debut’s last season and they never let the coach down. This week he held talks with five of his former ECU Joondalup academy players, and was delighted when teenagers Ethan Kerridge, Declan Hughes, Sam Pollard and Ben Johns all decided to re-joined the club, while Fraser Garnaut has re-signed after impressing last season

“I’ve always said if you’re good enough to play in the first team you will get the chance here, however old, or young you are,” McCulloch said. “I’ve worked with all these players in academy and I’m delighted they have returned home, and Mark and I have been working hard to bring our former players back, who were brought up in our academy structure.

“We have a great reputation of developing players through our academy and these boys left to join Perth Glory and other NPL clubs, but they have decided to head back, and we’re delighted to have them, and if they train hard and show me they are ready to play in the first team they will be selected.

“They are coming back because they want to be part of this football club, and we made great strides last season. We finished second in the overall league table (All three teams’ results combined) and our NPL junior were outstanding. We want to build on that and the return of these boys will strengthen the first team squad and the under 20’s.”

Hughes has returned, after a stint at Bayswater City last season and he said he is happy to be back at his home club. “It’s good to be home, and the club is on the up and I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I enjoyed my time at Bayswater, but I believe there is more of opportunity to progress here, and I’ll be doing all I can to show Dale I’m good enough to play first team football.”

Kerridge, who had trials with English Premier League side Crystal Palace last year, also returns from Bayswater, after playing under 18’s and 20’s last season, but he said the chance to come back home was one he couldn’t refuse. “I started playing the game at this club and they taught me a great deal,” the 16-year-old said. “I moved away but return because the club has always given opportunities to young players in their first team, and after speaking to Dale and Mark and they explained their plans, I wanted to be part of it.”

Pollard starred at Perth Glory’s under 20’s last season and was vital in their Top Four Cup run, and he said he will be doing all he can to push for first team football this season. “Like the rest of the boys I believe there is an opportunity to progress into the first team here, but we all have to go and show the coaching staff we deserve a spot,” he said. “I played here as a youngsters and I’m looking forward to returning and playing my best football.”

Johns was the skipper of the Glory 20’s last season, but like the others he’s happy to be back. “It’s good to back, I’ve been away for three years at the Glory, but I’ve been really impressed the way the club has progressed and I think it’s the perfect time to return home,” he said. “I thought I took a step forward last year at the Glory and captained the side so I took on more responsibility, but it’s a great opportunity to come home and push for a first team spot. I’ve worked with Dale before and I know what he expects, and with the improvement last season, and the direction the club is heading in I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Garnaut, who had a spell at Portuguese side Benfica last year, is returning after recovering from injury. He played under 20’s at the club last season and came off the bench for the first team late in the season, and he can’t wait to get started. “I’m looking forward to get back into to it again after my injury overseas, and it’s a great opportunity here for all of us,” he said. “I’ve known Dale for a while now, and he’s got that mentality of bringing young players through and that’s what brought me back here. The club have a great reputation of bringing players on to play at the next level and I’ll be doing all I can to push on.”