Manchester Development host Bolton Development on Sunday 7th April in what is set up to be a thrilling local derby. Manchester go into the fixture top of the table, with Bolton in third and four points behind their local rivals.
In the build-up for this local derby, we caught up with Head Coach of the Development side Russell Fryer.
As always, Russell began by expressing his delight with the link to the first team, with sides training together. "Training has been going well and the link with first team training has been a real asset to the club in assisting with the progression of players within the first team to cover injuries and unavailability."
With the side top of the league going into the final stretch of the season, Russell dismissed over-confidence being an issue for the team. "The lads are definitely buzzing (with the league position), but keeping their feet on the ground hasn’t been difficult at all. Despite their tender ages, they are very level-headed and everyone is aware that we can easily slip up if we take our eyes off the ball, due to the quality in this league now."
With the Development side top of their league and both the men’s and women’s side going well in their respective leagues, Russell admitted this is the perfect place for youngsters to learn their trade.
"Development is certainly the priority as always and we have the perfect environment in which to help that development. A head coach who grew up playing the game and coaches to the highest possible level, training on the same night as their peers in the senior team and often staying on to train with both and the support of those senior players when the younger players make that transition is vital."
As we enter the final stretch of the season, the Head Coach expressed his delight and pride in all his side have done so far. "Both Steve and I couldn’t be prouder of the players we have this year. We are in awe of the speed at which they have picked some real advanced sessions up. They have confirmed this season for us that the future is incredibly bright in Manchester and with this year’s under 16’s flying and knocking on the door, there is no sign of that ending any time soon."
Russell went on to add, "The best thing about this season is that we have gone a full season with a full English squad of Under 19 players and not once used a senior team player and as things stand we sit top of our league. What better advert for the future of the game in this country is there than that?"
Having played against each other just last week, Russell says both sides know each other very well. "We know Bolton well. Neil is a good friend of ours and after last week’s game against them at Trafford SoccerDome, we got to know them even better. Like us they pride themselves on bringing youth through and last week’s game was a real end to end battle that could have gone either way."
Finally, Russell gave us a team updated ahead of the local derby. "It doesn’t look as though Rylan will recover from last week’s injury and Harry is still unavailable, but apart from that we are back to full strength."
Manchester Development vs Bolton Development takes place at the NCC with kick off at 16:30. Tickets can be purchased on the door with all details pictured below.