As ever, it's been a busy time for everyone at the Academy, particularly with the half-term just gone, it gives us a great opportunity to work with some of the younger age groups.
Across last week we had a number of different age groups in at Rush Green together working on a number of different areas of the game including tactical sessions, positional work and in-game scenarios.
It's great at any stage of a player's development to train with players who are slightly older than them. You can't really put a value on it as they are constantly learning, and in the long run it can only help them to reach their potential.
As well as that some of our most promising players have been called away on international duty. Left-back Vashon Neufville and attacking midfielder Anthony Scully were both away with the England U16s were they played against Switzerland, Slovakia and France in games at St. George's Park.
Another hugely talented player called on international duty is centre-midfielder Declan Rice, who played for his native Republic of Ireland. As well as Declan, Reece Oxford and Jahmal Hector-Ingram were both involved in a tournament in Portugal, where they played Germany, Portugal and Holland.
It's a great achievement for anyone to represent their country at any level, and everyone at the Academy is very proud of their achievements. As Director of the Academy, we hope they continue to play for their countries for many years to come. As long as they continue to apply themselves and put in the dedication we've seen so far, I see no reason why they won't.
As well as that, we've made our selection for scholars for next year which include Oxford, Powell, Neufville, Scully and Tunji Akinola. We've also offered Jake Eggleton, a very exciting right-back, the option of doing his A levels while continuing to be a full time player.
It's a very strong group of players with several internationals in there. They've all played above their age in U18s and even for the U21s. They're all still young and we have to be patient, by we hope one day they'll have an impact on the first team.
As for the U21s, they haven't had a league game for a while but we've kept them busy, including a friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge. It was a great opportunity for a number of younger players to demonstrate what they can do, and against a side made of predominantly professional players, I thought they played very well.
Away from the pitch, the U21s have been involved in various community projects. First, a selection of the squad went to the University of East London to learn about the importance of healthy eating and how to prepare food properly.
They're at an age where some of them are moving into their own accommodation so they need to know what to eat, when to eat. As athletes, eating the right balance of carbohydrates and protein is absolutely essential to make sure they can perform to their best. Knowing how this changes depending on their schedule, i.e. preparing for a game or recovering afterwards is also vital.
Another event was a half-term training session at the David Lloyd Leisure near Gidea Park. This included Dan Potts, Leo Chambers, Lewis Page, Marcus Browne and Kieran Bywater where they coached 30 kids during their half term break. It was great to see the kids enjoy themselves, and I know the players enjoyed the experience just as much.
The session is another example of the good relationship we are building with the centre, and the community as a whole.
All the best,