DIRECTOR Mark Wilcox declared his commitment to Worcester City and scotched speculation the under-21s could play under a new guise next season.

Luca Gabriel’s youngsters featured in Midland Football League (MFL) Under-21 West this term with Wilcox revealing plans to play open-age football as a reserve team in 2018-19.

City’s development director confirmed he had explored the prospect of playing in MFL Division Three under a different identity, which would have been regarded officially as a separate club, but that would have left first-team boss John Snape unable to freely pick the club’s top talent.

Any non-contract players transferred between two clubs have to wait 14 days before registering again with their former team under current rules, a hurdle which put off City’s top brass.

The move also fuelled speculation that Wilcox could be looking to exit the troubled club amid intense criticism of the board, something he was quick to deny.

“As of today – and that’s all I can go on – I have set up and developed the youth section. It has taken four years to get to where are," said Wilcox.

“We have the facility at Perdiswell where all of the youth teams play, we play at Claines Lane as well and it has taken considerable time to create a well-established set-up.

“Let’s make it clear, I am staying with the club and looking to develop the youth teams. That’s what we are here for, to feed players into the first team which is going to be critical over the next few seasons.

“There has been some talk of potentially combining the Reserve Division and Division Three. We are still waiting to get all of that confirmed but it is our intention to go into a reserve league in the MFL.

“We should know a bit more by the end of May.”

On becoming a separate entity, Wilcox said: “We did look at that, I looked into every opportunity but it came back that we would have to go under a different name.

“That would not work with transferring players so we will go as Worcester City reserves.”

City has nine male teams in age groups from under-10s through to under-21s with a new under-10s girls’ side set to be added to the under-18s next season.

“It is all about progression,” Wilcox added. “The under-21s had a very successful first season at that level and were in contention to win the league.

“We had players called up to the first team which made us fall short and will have to make sure we have all of that covered next season.

“The whole purpose was to feed the senior set up so it has done its job.”