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With less influx of new signings than perhaps most were expecting, greater opportunities may arise this season for some of our up and coming youngsters.

@Scoham excellently profiles those waiting in the wings and coming through the system.


Last season was one that couldn’t have gone much better.

The first team, managed by Chris Powell went on to win the league comfortably, breaking various records along the way and finally leaving League One behind. Outside of the first team, the U18s made the quarter finals of the FA Youth Cup, only losing 3-2 away to Man Utd deep into injury time. In the U18 league, they challenged for the title, and several players were offered professional contracts. Alongside that group are a handful of young pro’s and signings that will form the U21 development squad. It’s a promising crop of players, but in terms of breaking into the first team, they have a difficult season ahead.

Goalkeeper Nick Pope (20yrs) spent part of last season out on loan with Harrow Borough, of the Ryman Premier League, and later moved up a division, playing for Welling United in the Blue Square South. This season expect more of the same for Pope, a loan spell or two and reserve games in the form of the new U21 league. An injury to Hamer or Sullivan remains his best chance of getting closer to the first team, and even then, Powell may choose to bring a more experienced goalkeeper in on loan. Earlier this year he signed a new two year deal, clearly he’s a player Powell and his staff see breaking through in the longer term.

Left back Cedric Evina (20) should benefit from the decision to allow clubs to name 7 substitutes – although with Wilson coming in he has further competition for a place on the bench. He’s likely to start in the Carling Capital One Cup game versus Leyton Orient, but realistically it’ll take an injury or suspension for him to regularly play ahead of Rhoys Wiggins. At 20 years old he’s still eligible to play in the U21 league, though Powell may consider sending him on a short term loan. First year pro and fellow left back Morgan Fox (18) may have to go out on loan for the first time if Evina plays regularly for the U21 side.

It would have come as no surprise if Yado Mambo (20) had been released this summer. However, after a successful loan spell in the Blue Square Premier with Ebbsfleet, he did enough to win another contract. If a centre back isn’t signed by the time we play Leyton Orient, we can expect Mambo to start in that game. After a cup appearance or two, Mambo will almost certainly go out on loan, as he has done for much of the last three seasons. This season he’ll need to prove he can step up to the Football League if he’s going to progress any further at the club. A long term loan deal for Mambo would give centre backs Semi Ajayi (18) and Harry Osborne (18) the chance to play regular football for the U21s.

Of the young defenders, Jordan Cousins (18) is probably the closest to making his first team debut. At best, this is more likely to be an appearance off the bench in the Capital One Cup, or at the end of the season if there’s nothing to play for. He’ll be playing regularly for the U21s, and perhaps go out on loan in the Blue Square Premier.

After an impressive 2010/11 season ending with first team appearances and a pro contract, Callum Harriott (18) had hoped to push on last season. Unfortunately he found that difficult, with competition for a place in the U18s coming from Tobi Sho-Silva, Ade Azeez and Joe Pigott (18), who all went on to win pro deals last season. He’ll be up against that same competition, and more, in the U21s.

New signing Jordan Cook (22) has proven himself in League One and offers versatility. As the current squad stands, he will be in and around the first team. His best chance of regular first team football may come through Powell sticking with the 4-3-3 formation that he is currently experimenting with. He’ll be up against likes of Wright-Phillips, Haynes, Wagstaff and Green, who like Cook, need to prove themselves at Championship level. In a 4-4-2 he will probably provide cover for captain Johnnie Jackson, who is unlikely to lose his place in the side.

In a similar position to Yado Mambo, Ruben Bover (20) won a 1 year contract extension, but needs to push on if he’s going to make it at the club. Last season he spent the last few months of the season in the Spanish third tier, rather than the more physical English non-league. He may feature in the league cup, as he did last year, but it’ll take a few injuries and suspensions if he’s going to make the bench for league games. He’ll be a regular in the U21 team, but whether he goes out on loan will depend on the level of any clubs interested and their style of play. Powell will want any loan club to get the best out of him, and to do that it’ll need to be a team that play a passing game. Perhaps playing under Mark Robson at Barnet in League Two will be an option for the likes of Bover?

Bradley Jordan (18), like Ben Davisson a year ago, was offered a 6 month contract and his main concern will be to secure a longer deal. Diego Poyet (17) will be looking to feature for the U21s this season, despite being eligible for the U18s for another season.

Up front, Michael Smith (20) looks the young player with the potential to make an impact on the first team this season. With Powell looking to sell Hayes and Clarke, Smith is currently the only player that offers something similar to Yann Kermorgant. After a short but impressive loan spell in League Two with Accrington Stanley earlier this year, and a decent start to pre-season, Smith could well add to his single substitute appearance for Charlton this season. If a striker is signed in the next month or so expect Smith to go out on loan in League Two, perhaps League One at a push, where he will hopefully build on his time at Accrington. If Powell is unable to bring in a striker, Smith has a reasonable chance of making the bench.

Ade Azeez (18) will aim to establish himself as a regular in the U21 side and continue his goalscoring form of last season. Tobi Sho-Silva (17) is a year younger so may feature for both the U21s and U18s. Unlike Azeez and Sho-Silva, who can play across a front three, Joe Pigott (18) tends to play as the central attacker. He may well be hoping Michael Smith goes out on loan, giving him more opportunities to start for the U21s. For the three young strikers, any time out on loan is likely to be in non-league.

Of the new U18s to look out for, @liamhappe suggested earlier this year we should keep an eye on strikers/wingers Tomi Adeloye and Ellis Brown, right back Levander Pyke and left back/central midfielder Tareiq Holmes-Dennis – who impressed in the FA Youth Cup run, stepping up from the U16s.


  • I'm told there's an even younger player who is exceptional - Joe Gomez.

    Note sure of his age but was told he is different gravy
  • think gomez is 15

  • Have heard of Gomez, he's an u16 this season, made a few appearances for the u18s last season:,,10267~2693628,00.html,,10267~2633724,00.html

    Looks like they played him at right back, but his main position is centre back.
  • I really wouldn't get too excited about a 15yr old, far too many variables can come into play
  • If he played for the u18s when he was 14 that suggests that, as swisdon said, he must be different gravy... which I assume means he's quite good.
  • Very interesting, thanks. Any thoughts on Diego Poyet? Early noises seemed positive but has he tailed off?
  • I really wouldn't get too excited about a 15yr old, far too many variables can come into play

    If only Jonathan King had said that!
  • have only seen the youngsters in their fa cup match against man utd last year, but took so many positives from that game.
    considering his age, for me the stand out player was holmes. thats not detracting from very good performances from a number of others.
  • I don't think there is anything better than youth team players making into the first team.
  • edited July 2012

    I really wouldn't get too excited about a 15yr old, far too many variables can come into play

    There talks the voice of experience!

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  • Very useful piece and extremely well done. What's happened to Diego Poyet? Is he still too young or have I missed him moving on?
  • I really wouldn't get too excited about a 15yr old, far too many variables can come into play

    Very interesting and thanks to Scoham, CL's most respected and able scouting maestro.

    Agree with AFKA about 15 year olds. I'm sure there are many such stories over the years, but one I remember is the Vietnamese lad we had on our books during the Selhurst days (anyone recall his name?) At 15, we were told he was going to be the new Simonsen. I have absolutely no idea what happened to him...

    And thanks to Ormiston for the Jonathan King line. Naughty, but made me laugh out loud!

  • The vin ngyuen
    Or something like that.
  • With The Vin Nyguan, i think the problem was that he probably wasn't 15 !

    Once played against a Vietnamese lad called Tannaka, with no passport etc his age was done by means of a test. When he was '13' he aws about 6ft 2 and had a full beard !
  • Poyet? Answers please!
  • edited July 2012

    Poyet? Answers please!

    Scoham did mention him...

    Diego Poyet (17) will be looking to feature for the U21s this season, despite being eligible for the U18s for another season.

  • Ade Azeez...he is quality. hopefully will see him break into the first team at some point this season
  • Would love to see 2 or 3 of these boys make it with us, as said above there is nothing like having a youth product break through and be a great player for Charlton. Solly the most recent example of many.
  • Thanks for this Scoham.

    It's always interesting to read your views especially about the youngsters.

  • thanks for the article. always want to hear about our youngsters as it brings so much more satisfaction when they break through and play well than when we buy someone from another club. hope they get a few chances.

    oh, and on a separate note, i liked the article title.
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  • Joe Gomez came on last night for the development squad, too slight at the moment to do well for this side at the moment, Diego Poyet played as the defensive midfielder in a diamond, he has a great range of passing.

  • Once played against a Vietnamese lad called Tannaka, with no passport etc his age was done by means of a test. When he was '13' he aws about 6ft 2 and had a full beard !

    Was he from Gravesend? If so, I went to school with him and he was indeed huge, but by 18 everyone had caught him up in height (except midgets like me!), but he was still built like a brick outhouse. Still see him around from time to time, and he is also an addick.
  • Yep, that's him. Played football and cricket for Gravesham. He was the bane of my life at one stage !

    Twice the size of me, I had to mark him once and he just shrugged me off like a rag. Couple of months later I walked out to open the batting for Bexley Borough and all of a sudden he comes steaming in. Ball whisked past my head like a Ferrari. Absolutely shat myself !
  • Gomez has the potential to be excellent and is apparently one of the prime concerns in mind when the club took measures to prevent potential scouts showing up at Sparrows Lane.

    Held his own in a number of key U18 matches including some which were presented live via Player and should continue his progress in 12/13.

    Not been able to check out the U18 friendlies so far unfortunately due to hectic Olympic duties.
  • Just hope all these young players are handled well,not like our local pro youth set up where an arsehole of a coach is butchering plenty whilst pushing on his mates (not very good) sons.
  • Paul Hart has a first class record of nurturing young players as he proved at Leeds and Forest.
  • Thats good to hear.
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