ALVECHURCH will get a glimpse of the future as their extended season continues with a trip to Heath Hayes on Saturday.
A waterlogged pitch forced the scheduled JW Hunt Cup quarter-final tie at the Midland League Division One side to be postponed on Tuesday.
However, with the rearranged game coming two weeks after the planned end of the league season, the Churchmen have to rule out eight players, so youth-teamers Danny Moy and James Douglas will make the step into Ian Long’s first team squad.
The teenagers have already tasted senior football on loan – striker Moy at Bilston Town and midfielder Douglas at Tipton Town – and impressed.
Moy, who is just 16 and in his first year of under 18s football, has been on trial at Birmingham City, although the Blues felt he was not quite ready to become a full-time trainee as this stage.
“I’ve got quite a few lads unavailable for the rearranged game at Heath Hayes,” said manager Long. “It’s two weeks after what was supposed to be the end of the season and people have booked time away with is understandable.
“It’s an opportunity to blood some young lads, with Danny Moy and James Douglas coming in. They’ve both gone out on loan to get some experience of men’s football and all the reports I’ve had, from Wes Cox at Tipton and Jon Purdie at Bilston, is that they’ve really caught the eye.
“Danny has had a trial at Blues and they’ve told him he just needs to improve a few things. He’s never really had much coaching but he’s learning all the time. With his pace and strength, he’s a handful and he doesn’t fear anything.
“The youth team under Tyrone Henderson has done well this year and finished second in the league, especially when you look at the bigger clubs they have been competing with.
“We’ve already had the likes of Brogan Halpin, Jack Francis and Delano Reid coming into the squad at times so there’s a strong future there.”
Alvechurch will be without Nick Wright, Ryan Winwood, Mark Smith, Leigh Downing, Dave Bellis and Richard Huckfield, while Matt Sargeant and James Spray are both cup-tied.
Long and the bulk of his Church squad are looking for a hat-trick of successes in the JW Hunt Cup, the final of which is played at Wolves’ Molineux, having won the cup in the past seasons with Tividale.
Long, though, is not underestimating the challenge ahead. Heath Hayes ended strongly, finishing in the top eight, and then the winners of Saturday’s tie will face a semi-final against friendly foes Sporting Khalsa on Wednesday, to be played at AFC Wulfrunians’ ground.
In the other half of the draw, Wolves Casuals or Lichfield City meet Wolves Sporting or Black Country Rangers in the last four. The final is scheduled for May 25.
Meanwhile, Long will be sitting down with chairman Richard Thorndike to consider their plans for the future.
As the FA finalises the non-league pyramid for 2016/17, it seems Alvechurch will miss out on promotion, despite their record-breaking 101 points in finishing runners-up to Midland League Premier Division champions Hereford.
Church are also aware that, with Redditch United and Rushall Olympic both looking for new managers after the exits of Liam McDonald and Richard Sneekes respectively, Long has the CV and credentials to be a contender for the posts.
For his part, Long is ambitious to progress to the highest level he can, but has a strong relationship with Thorndike, who he describes as “the best chairman a manager could wish for”.