Congratulations on Connor’s trial with Derby! He must be delighted?
Yeah he’s been ecstatic since he found out they wanted to invite him in on trial. It’s been a really enjoyable time for him.
Can you tell us about the trial?
It was a good, successful experience and something he really enjoyed. Last Monday we went down to Lees Brook Community School and there were about 9 players his age there. The trial last about an hour and fifteen minutes and they were doing different drills like 1v1’s and 2v2’s, then they went into matches similar to the format at UK Football Trials.
What was the standard like?
There were lots of players there who had been released from other clubs and academies, so it was a really high standard. But it was a great experience for him, it’s not often you get to play in that environment, with that level of players.
What’s Connor’s background in football?
He’s trained with Birmingham City Community Development Centre previously, and does a lot of training on weekends taken by a former Premier League footballer which is really helpful. His school team got to the finals recently as well but this is the first time he’s done anything like this.
Does Connor do much training by himself?
Every single day he runs for an hour in the evening, working on sprints and doing his football drills as well, so he gets quite a lot of training between that and his coaching.
What are his best attributes?
I’d say he’s got a real natural ability, good balance, he’s intelligent and he has a great attitude. That’s the feedback he gets from his coaches, not me! His attitude is brilliant, working hard, training hard and he’s very committed.
And are there any areas he thinks he needs to work on?
Definitely his weaker foot, he’s working on it a lot but it’s still not quite there compared to his stronger foot. And the other thing would be his communication. It sometimes takes him a while to grow to people and speak up but when he does then there’s no stopping him.
Well it sounds like everything is going well! Can we just ask about how he found the UK Football Trials experience?
We’ve actually been to three! In August 2015, Easter 2016 and then this summer in Tamworth. They’ve been brilliant and he’s learnt so much from them. The coaches he’s had – Ashleigh Hopkins and Robin van der Laan – have been so good with him and very helpful. He looked at what Robin graded him the first time he came back, worked on it and he got much better scores this time so he’s definitely improving.
Finally, what’s his next step from here?
Well I don’t think he’ll be going back to Derby, the standard was very high and the distance was a bit of an issue as well, but what he wants to do now is get a scholarship somewhere. That will enable him to train and do his education at the same time.