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Kids are all right as City look to the future
5:00pm Thursday 22nd August 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WHAT was it Alan Hansen once said? Something about not winning anything with kids.
The BBC pundit’s quote surrounding a youthful Manchester United side in 1995, before they promptly went on to become one of English football’s finest teams, has come back to haunt him ever since.
As United proved, age is just a number. If a player is good enough, does it matter how old he is?
With that in mind, it will be very interesting to see how Worcester City fare over the coming months in Skrill North.
Now, I’m not about to suggest that Carl Heeley’s team will sweep all before them this season, particularly given that they have lost their first two games.
But they do have a team of young, inexperienced players who are keen to make their mark and Heeley, without the cash to fund more seasoned personnel, has been prepared to show faith in them.
The average age of last Saturday’s starting 11 against Altrincham was just 21, with six of the team aged 21 or under.
Against Gloucester City on Tuesday night, the inclusion of 27-year-old Shabir Khan instead of Daniel Nti, 20, brought the average up, but not by much.
In fact, left-back Shabir, who has come through the ranks at Worcester, is now the oldest member of the squad.
There isn’t anyone over, or even approaching, 30, as was the case with Stuart Whitehead, Glyn Thompson and Lee Ayres last term.
Several others, such as striker Mike Symons and midfielders Rob Elvins and Matt Birley, were all in their mid-20s and knew non-league’s second tier.
Of the current crop, centre-half Richard Munday turns 26 on Saturday, when City visit Brackley Town, and fellow defender Ashley Walker is 25.
But neither of those have a great deal of experience at this level of the pyramid.
Captain Tom Thorley and striker Danny Glover, at 23, have played regularly in the division, as has 21-year-old left-back Ellis Deeney.
Beyond that, there are no fewer than 12 players registered to City who are aged 20 or under, the youngest being academy goalkeeper Sam Hawker at 17.
However, in right-back George Williams, centre-half Graham Hutchison and forwards Aaron Williams and Nti, they have players who have impressed in spurts so far this term.
Midfielder Elliot Turner is another who looked good in pre-season, although he has not yet featured because of a hamstring injury.
City might not win anything with this group of youngsters but they will be determined to prove people wrong.