NINE players from last season’s under-20s squad have been retained by the club for the 2018/19 campaign.
Sam Campbell, Alex Geddes, Ryan MacBean, Cameron Maclean, Jack Maclean, Craig McDermott, Ian Payne, Colin Morrison and Euan Wheeler all featured heavily for Stuart Finnie’s team last season and have been signed up again for the new season.
They join the nine players promoted from last season’s under-17s pool plus Seamus McConaghy, Joe Cuthbert and Fraser Wilkie – who signed new deals in June – in making up Finnie’s squad.
The Under-20s Head Coach said: “All of these players have done well for us last season and I expect them all to kick-on again for us over the next few months. Given they will all be at least halfway through their four years of under-20s football come next season, they should be looking to be knocking on the door of being called up to first team training come the end of the season while those who have been involved at that level should be looking to make themselves permanent fixtures.”
He added: “Sam is a strong midfield player who can play in the middle or wide while Alex is a pacey striker who predominantly plays through the middle but has also been used out wide and made a difference when he came on in that position in our win against St Duthus and did really well as the central striker against Clach on Monday night.
“Ryan is an out-and-out goal scorer but has the pace to also play wide in attack and made his Highland League debut away at Keith last season. Cameron is another who has made his Highland League debut, coming off the bench in the draw at Wick Academy just before Christmas. He plays in the middle of the park or at the back.
“Both Jack and Craig play left back with Jack liking to get forward and having the engine to play just as well at wing back if we play that system while Craig can also come inside and play in the middle of the park where he brings balance as a natural left-footer. Colin is another midfield player who is from Lewis and has been playing back there over the summer months in his break from college.
“We are looking to Ian to kick-on again after he burst on the scene in the under-20s a couple of years ago when he was still only 15 and made it all the way to being called up for first team training. Now is the time for him to fulfil that potential and get back in the first team picture and I have every faith in him to do that while Euan is an out-and-out centre-half who has been one of the most steady and consistently good players I have worked with in my time taking the under-20s.”
Finnie concluded: “The opportunity is there for all the players to make Highland League careers for themselves at this club and now is the time for them to put the work in and make it happen. But we have another wave of under-17s players to assess over the course of this season, so none of our under-20s squad can rest on their laurels and feel they are guaranteed to be with the club next season.”