AFC Mansfield create new U17 side as part of long-term development strategy

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AFC Mansfield have boosted their youth set-up with the appointment of former Blidworth Welfare manager Chris Riley.

Riley will head up the ambitious club’s new U17 intermediary side which will compete in Division One of the Chad Saturday Youth League from next season.

It is all part of the Forest Town club’s long term strategy to develop a strong future and boost the quality of players coming through the ranks.

Riley has played a key role in the success of Blidworth Welfare in recent years and was instrumental in helping payers progress up the football ladder.

Said Riley: “I learned a great deal about this level of football during my two seasons at Blidworth Welfare FC. It wasn’t an easy path or philosophy to follow and at times I even doubted my own sanity, due largely to our weekly encounters with people who had a win at all cost attitude with little thought for player development.

“Through hard work and much perseverance we achieved remarkable things and at least 10 players over the two seasons progressed to higher levels of football having learned different facets and levels of discipline within the game.

“I hope to build on the last two years of learning and change of mentality by developing even further the continental style of entertaining yet disciplined football into the higher levels of the senior game, leading to a new generation of talented footballers for the long-term future of AFC Mansfield.”

The appointment has been welcomed by club director Andy Saunders, who said Riley would help the club to develop in the right direction.

“We are looking forward to working with Chris and hope that some of his players will progress into our U19’s team and eventually our first team,” he said.

“This will offer long term progression and a bright future for talented local footballers in the development and continued success of AFC Mansfield.”

Trials will take place on 28th and 29th June at Joseph Whitaker Sports College in Raimworth between 10am and 1pm.

A squad of between 18 and 22 players will then be selected.