The new academy season is upon us. The Under-21s season started last Friday at home to Sunderland (at Colney), whilst the Under-18s kick-off their season away to West Bromwich Albion this week.
I’m delighted to have the opportunity to document the academy season with MFW, and hopefully educate our readers on NCFC’s stars for the future and tell the stories that emerge this season.
There are up to ten new faces across the U18s and U21s this season, so I thought the best place to start would be to introduce every player that’ll be playing for the academy this season.
There are 37 players on this list, so if you’re looking for a long read, you’re in the right place.
*Please note that U23s & U21s are the same level of football.
Leon Giller – GK
Leon was one of the academy scholars that signed for the club at the start of the season. Leon is a capable sweeper keeper who has composure on the ball. He will most likely end up as Caleb Ansen’s understudy but will have a selection of games to prove his qualities.
Caleb Ansen – GK
Similarly to Leon, Caleb is another academy scholar who’ll be featuring for the U18s this season. Caleb has a massive frame for a goalkeeper (6’6), making him a brilliant shot-stopper. I expect him to be the regular Under-18 goalkeeper this season.
Benjy McCabe – RB/CM/CB
Benjy is an interesting case study as he’s already racked up some international caps for Wales. His position has transformed over the last two seasons, as he was formerly a central midfielder. With his tenacious and hard-tackling attributes, the club see Benjy as better suited to the right full-back role. I expect Benjy to be a first-team starter for the U18s this season.
Alfie Doy – RCB
Alfie accumulated 261 minutes of U18s football last season, giving him a good grounding for this upcoming season. The ball-playing centre-back will be a starter for the U18s this season. This will be beneficial for Alfie, as the calibre of attacking players in the South Division is high.
Waylon Renecke – LCB/LB
The ceiling is incredibly high for Renecke. The Under-16 England international played over a 1000+ minutes for the U18s last season. His challenge is to maintain the consistency he showed last season, in order to eventually push for U21s football. Due to his athleticism, Waylon is also a competent left-back which adds depth to Greg Crane’s U18s back line.
Uriah Djedje – CM/LCB
Another one of the 2022 scholar youth intake, Uriah will get a set of games for the U18s this season. The versatility he possesses will help him get a greater volume of games.
Pedro Amadou – AM/ ST
One of the exciting talents amongst this youth intake. Pedro can play in a variety of attacking positions. Similar to Jon Rowe, Pedro is very talented at dribbling past players and creating goal-scoring opportunities. He’ll be a constant figure in the U18s team this season.
Alfie Pinyoun – CM/RB
There have been occasions in pre-season where Alfie has slotted in at right back, however his most comfortable position is at the heart of midfield. He has experience of playing football at U18s level, which will help him adapt to the level over this season.
Alex Roberts – LW/ST
Similarly to Benjy, Alex has got experience of playing for Wales at youth level too, meaning he joins this U18s group with some pedigree. Alex has been a prolific goal-scorer at youth level in previous seasons, despite him finding it difficult to adapt to U18s football last season. He will spend a huge proportion of the season playing U18s football, which will hopefully correspond to him scoring plenty of goals.
Harrison Thompson – CM
The ball-playing central midfielder will be a regular feature in the U18s squad this season. With a goal from midfield already in pre-season, his standards look to be high. Thompson got a glimpse of U18s football last season, meaning it’ll be up to him to make progress from an encouraging season last term.
Finley Welch – CDM/CM
Fin has a background of playing futsal when he was younger, ultimately leading to his most influential strength being his ball-playing abilities. Across last season, he played up to 20 games, with a large proportion of them being the lone pivot. Welch has a high footballing IQ, as he’s a player who can receive the ball from the defenders and then pass progressively to the thirds. There is a possibility that Welch will be the U18s captain this season.
Osman Foyo – LB/CDM/LCM
Unlike most of the 2022/23 U18s squad, Osman has already accumulated a vast amount of experience at that level. Foyo has various attributes which are different from his teammates including a physical and tenacious edge. He started his career at Norwich as a central midfielder, but last season also played at left-back. With Osman at left-back and Alex Matos on the left flank, it made for a positive dynamic last season, due to the fact that Matos is an attacking-orientated player, while Foyo is a reserved full-back, meaning it was a balanced left side.
Alex Matos – LW/CAM/ST
Alex is one of the brightest talents in the academy. He was rewarded with a professional contract last season, which demonstrates the faith that Norwich have shown to him. Unfortunately, he sustained an injury at the start of last season, meaning he couldn’t make an immediate impact. Matos played around 1800 minutes last season, with a tally of two goals and one assist. In addition, he won a few penalties for the team, which underlines his strong dribbling abilities. He has also had exposure to U21s football. Naturally, he gave the team pace and energy to drive the ball forward from midfield to advanced areas.
Charlie Campbell – CB
You won’t find a more unfortunate footballer than Charlie Campbell. He was injured throughout the 2021-22 academy season meaning he hasn’t played much football. His inclusion into the U21s team in pre-season has been surprising, considering he has barely played any U18s football. I’d expect Campbell to play in the U18s team, despite his career trajectory being difficult to predict.
Ken Aboh – ST
Aboh is a talented prospect. He became a regular player in the U18s side at the back end of the 20/21 season. Many of you might be familiar with his name, after he scored in the 2021-22 FA Youth Cup at Carrow Road, against Stoke. He has got a low centre of gravity, allowing him to breeze past central defenders, while being prolific in front of goal too. Aboh netted 9 times last season (at U18s level), with a majority of those goals coming in the second half of the season.
Micheal Reindorf – LW
Reindorf signed for Norwich from Leyton Orient last season. Last season, he was on the periphery of the U18s squad, meaning he played the majority of his minutes coming off the bench. A direct and athletic winger, he has a tendency to take the game to the opponents, albeit his goal tally isn’t healthy. Michael has an opportunity this season, with the 18s, to become a more reliable option in front of goal.
Jayden St-Paul – GK
Jayden has finally found a home at Norwich City. Before Norwich invited him for a trial in the early months of 2021, Jayden was playing for a local team in London. His progress from then has been astonishing. St-Paul was the first-choice goalkeeper for the U18s last season, and was in contention to win @norwichyouth U18s Fans Player of the Season. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury in the closing stages of the campaign, meaning he missed the early stages of this pre-season. He’s a goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and was a reliable asset for the team last season. He’ll get opportunities with the U21s this season.
Brad Hills – RCB
The ball-playing centre-back made an unexpected entrance to the first team, away to Hibernian in a pre-season friendly. Despite an underwhelming U18s season, in terms of results, Hills remained a standout plater. Although his game still needs nurturing in a positional sense, he’s effective at winning aerial duels and commanding a defence. With a vast amount of experience of playing U18s football, the time for him has come to test himself at U21 level. Brad has serious potential, it’s up to him to show it at a higher level.
Lewis Shipley – LCB/LB
Similarly to Brad Hills, Shipley also played in that Hibs friendly. Lewis Shipley and Brad Hills have played an abundance of football together in these last few years – it’ll be a familiar partnership in the U21s team next season too. The ball-playing defender will have a season at U21s level, which will enhance his development.
Ben Watt – RB
Ben has represented England at youth level, meaning he arrives at Norwich with pedigree. Ben was on trial during the back end of last season and impressed. The energetic right-back will predominantly play for the U21s this season, due to the fact that there’s a shortage of full-backs amongst the U21s team
Kenny Coker – ST
Coker is an interesting one. He has already experienced first-team football, with his previous club, Southend United. He showed his talents last season, by moving into dangerous channels and holding up play effectively. To counteract that, Coker didn’t have a prolific season with the U18s, scoring only twice. Kenny will be spending the season with the U21s due to his age. He has looked promising for Norwich but needs to add goals to back up the potential.
Harry Brooke – CDM/CM
Harry excelled at U18s level last season, despite suffering an injury in the second part of the season. His consistent performances led to a professional contract in the new year. Not only did he play to a good standard for the U18s last season, he impressed on the U23 stage too, even though a lot of his appearances came off the bench. Harry will be hoping for an injury-free season, while being an apparent figure in the U21s team, throughout the season.
Joe Duffy – CM/CAM
Similarly to Harry Brooke, Joe Duffy impressed at U18s level last season too. Joe contributed to approximately a qaurter of the U18s goals, highlighting his technical quality. He was also voted @norwichyouth U18s Fans Player of the Season, demonstrating his popularity amongst supporters. He also chipped in with three assists at U23s level last season, meaning he can replicate his quality at a higher level. The objective for Joe is to replicate his form from last season into this as he has the capabilities to do so.
Oscar Thorn – LW/ST/RB
Oscar is an exciting young player. Last season, he scored in the biggest game of his season – the FA Youth Cup at Carrow Road (v Stoke). Thorn brings vibrancy, drive and directness to an attack, albeit he’s slightly raw in front of goal. I suspect Thorn will play U21s football this season, which will give him an opportunity to elevate his game to a new level.
Dylan Berry – GK
Dylan is one of an array of talented goalkeepers in the academy. Berry is a stunning shot-stopper, as well as his commitment to getting low down quickly, which is difficult for a tall goalkeeper. His domestic form was recognised by Northern Ireland U21s. In fact, he played an U21s Euro Qualifier versus France U21s – a Champions League-winning midfielder was playing that night, Eduardo Camavinga. This exposure is great for Berry, who will be keen to back up a promising 2021-22 season.
Sean Stewart – LB/LWB
Just like Dylan Berry, Sean Stewart represented Northern Ireland U21s last season. He played against European powerhouses Spain, matching up against Tottenham’s Bryan Gil. Moreover and got an assist against Lithuania U21s, illustrating his technical quality throughout that game. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to feature throughout the academy season, due to injury. If he has a positive season, there’s no doubt he’ll be playing 23s first-team football in the next 12 months (a loan would be more likely). Towards the back end of last season, Stewart’s overall game looked tidy, indicating that he’s on the right path.
Regan Riley – CM/RB
Signing for Norwich on deadline day from Bolton in January 2021, Regan’s time in NR1 has been unfortunate. Over the course of last season, he picked up a few injuries meaning his game time was limited. In the end he played 12 games for the U23s. Regan has wonderful attributes for a central midfielder, including his energetic engine to cover large areas of the pitch, while also his technical quality makes him an attacking threat. He’s shown promise in patches, but they need to be moulded together on a consistent basis, for his Norwich career to lift off. He will be involved with the U21s this season, with a potential loan move awaiting in the next 6-12 months.
Liam Gibbs – CDM/CM/RB
Wow! It’s been a great first year at Norwich for Gibbs. There was always going to be an opportunity in pre-season, for the stars of the U23s 2021-22 season and Liam was one of them. One of the main differences which separate Gibbs from the other academy central midfielders is his ability to dictate the intensity of the game. In addition to that, he builds patterns nicely, which is imperative for a quarterback. Gibbs has also shown his ability to compete with the physical demands of first-team football, something which is required if he wants to progress at City. Liam is a special talent, who will be playing first-team football this season. We’ll know in a month’s time whether it’s out on loan or here.
Abu Kamara – LW/ST/CAM/LWB
Abu is coming off the back of an outstanding 2021-22 season, as he was the PL2 Division 2 top scorer with 15 goals. This season is important for Abu because he needed to back this up. He brings composure, intelligence and quality to a team, something which the U23s were grateful for last season. He’s trained with the first team on many occasions too, which helps build his strength. I envisage Abu spending the first half of the season with the U21s, with a potential loan move in January, depending on his performance level.
Jon Rowe – RW/ST
In the MFW season preview, I predicted Jon Rowe to play a part in the first team this season. Unfortunately, Rowe picked up an injury, which is set to rule him out for a number of weeks. He has continuously shown his talent at academy level, meaning he’s ready to showcase it at first-team level. It will be interesting to see Jon’s next step after he recovers from his injury, as Norwich’s attacking depth is adding up. Jon is a flamboyant player who is ready to make an impact at first team level: I just hope it’s with City.
Tony Springett – LW/ST/RW/RB/LB
Springett has sprung into life! Tony had an incredible 2021-22 season, accumulating eight goals and 11 assists at U23s level. His promising form was rewarded as he made his Premier League debut towards the end of last season. His enthusiasm and vibrancy in the attacking third tempted Dean Smith to play him at the highest level; those traits with which he excelled for the U23s season. His final ball needs improving but he is on the right path. It’s difficult to pinpoint the roles of Rowe and Springett when they are both fit though, as there is an increasing depth of attacking talent at the club.
Jon Tomkinson – CB
Tomkinson had a fine 2021-22 season, captaining the side to a PL2 Division 2 play-off spot – the first time in the club’s history since the club became a Category 1 academy. Jon joined the Canaries in 2019 and since then has played on both sides of central defence. He started as a left centre-back at U18s level, in order to improve his distribution with his left foot. He had to deal with various profiles of strikers last season, and excelled in containing them, which will give him confidence heading into first-team football. He is ready to play in the Championship and be a backup option to the first-choice centre-backs. If this doesn’t happen this season, he needs game time, as he’s too good to be lingering in the U21s.
Jaden Warner – CB
Jaden is another central defender, with bundles of talent. He played the majority of the U23s season last term, alongside Jonathan Tomkinson. He is a fine ball-playing defender, while also being a competent defender too. He possesses good levels of speed, allowing him to close off runners and is able to make recovery tackles. Warner will be an experienced member of the U21s this season, having had two seasons already, at this level. If he continues his good form from last season, he could be a potential candidate for a loan move in January. The pleasing thing for Warner is that he’s got a contract until 2025.
Tom Dickson-Peters – ST
TDP has immense quality. Throughout his time at U18s level and U23s level, he’s always been prolific in front of goal and this was in evidence last season when he was the PL2 Division 2 top goalscorer. During January 2022, he had several loan offers on the table and opted for Gillingham. However, the manager (Steve Evans) that recruited him, was sacked a month which made it difficult for him. I expect Tom to get another loan move this season, which will help develop his game. There is pressure on him to deliver, as his contract expires at the end of the season.
Tyrese Omotoye – ST/LW/RW
Despite not kicking on at his loan clubs, Omotoye has brilliant qualities. He has developed into a powerhouse, meaning he’s effective at holding the ball up and while he has shown glimpses of his efficiency in front of goal, the club would have wanted to see more of that in his three loans. He has the skills to succeed in a first-team environment, but they need to be assembled quickly as Norwich have a packed striker department. Another loan move looks likely for Omotoye this season.
David Aziaya – GK
David has signed a professional contract this summer, meaning the club has faith in him. It was a demoralising season for Aziaya as he was loaned out to Barnsley during last season but he re-emerged back into the U18s team at the back end of last season. Aziaya is a confident shot-stopper, who’ll get opportunities for the U21s this season.
Marcel McIntosh – CB
Marcel is one of the new academy signings. His last club was Forest Green. He will be a regular for the U21s this season.
PLAYERS THAT HAVEN’T FEATURED THROUGHOUT PRE-SEASON/UNCERTAIN FUTURES
PLAYERS CURRENTLY OUT ON LOAN
Flynn Clarke (Walsall)
Saxon Earley (Stevenage)
PLAYERS ON TRIAL