Stockport Sports Development Squad will operate in the Manchester League Division 1 this coming season, with manager Paul Bennett keen to introduce young players into senior football and develop them into first-team footballers.
Bennett has been working tirelessly with his squad throughout the summer, often running sessions with up to 50 youngsters, although he has now trimmed his squad down to around 20 going into the new season.
The Saxons Development Squad is made up mainly of 17-19 year old players, mostly from the Greater Manchester area, although some players were travelling from further afield during pre-season in an attempt to win a place in Bennett's plans. Their results and performances in pre-season have been good, facing the likes of Bury, Morecambe, Hyde and Stalybridge, and the signs are very encouraging.
Bennett has set himself two goals for the coming season;
“I set a target to encourage the team to try and win every game that they play, that is achievable. The players are young and very keen to learn. My other target is to get as many players as I can into the first-team squad”.
Bennett is planning to create a youth team as well next season, a side catering for 16-18 year old players to further help them bridge the gap into senior football. With the Development Squad looking at players aged 18-21 it will give The Saxons coaches potentially 4-5 years to work with them and hopefully mould them into players capable of stepping into the first-team.
Bennett explains that everyone associated with The Saxons is keen to see him and the Development Squad succeed in producing players from within the club good enough for the first team;
“The Gaffer (Peter Withe) is excellent. He doesn't just ask how they've gone on in games, he wants to know how they're doing in training too. He's always there for advice, not just for me but for the young lads too”
“Everyone at the club is very supportive and they all help out. Even the chairman John Hindley helps out in training and at games”
“The first-team squad are excellent as well. They help the young ones out. It can be scary coming into a club when you're very young but they have certainly made them feel welcome”
Paul will be updating the official website www.stockportsportsfc.com with fixtures, results and reports throughout the season, so any supporters keen to attend games or simply wishing to follow the fortunes of the Development Squad should ensure that they log onto the site as often as possible and check out the pages dedicated to Bennett's team.