ALVECHURCH teenager Luke Yates is pushing his dream of becoming a professional footballer closer to reality after featuring for Sheffield United.
While Alvechurch were tonight (Thursday) looking for the point against Bedworth United to secure successive promotions, front-runner Yates was due to travel with the Blades U23s for tonight’s U23s Premier League Cup semi-final against current holders Swansea City.
The summer signing from Wednesfield lined up in the Yorkshire side’s development team on Tuesday against Charlton and played 74 minutes at the Valley in a 1-0 defeat.
Yates has already been training with West Bromwich Albion while Birmingham City are understood to be also keeping tabs on the 18-year-old wide player.
Manager Ian Long says the club did not want to deny the youngster the opportunity, despite the decision meaning he missed the 3-0 midweek win at Market Drayton Town and the potential promotion decider against Bedworth.
“It’s a great opportunity for Luke and it’s great for the club too,” said Long. “We all want to see young players do well and progress.
“Luke has already been training with Albion, although they didn’t have any games for him to play in, and now he has been to Sheffield United. He played against Charlton at the Valley and the chairman (Richard Thorndike) and (assistant boss) Rich Colwell, who was working in London, were able to go and watch.
“There are clubs sniffing around and it reflects well on our club. We will give youngsters a chance and it shows we’ve got an eye for a player.”
All eyes, however, will be on securing promotion to the new Midlands Step Three. Church’s impressive 3-0 win at Market Drayton, courtesy of goals from Yusifu Ceesay, Nathan Waite and Tom Turton, followed Saturday’s 3-1 success at Carlton Town where Ash Carter, Josh March and Yates were on target.
It means Long’s men need one point from two games – against Bedworth or at home to Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday – to be guaranteed a top two place, although they will go up regardless if Frickley Athletic fail to win their final two matches.
Whatever their fate, Long will sit down with the chairman and directors next week to plan ahead, hoping to ensure the nucleus of the squad remains, making contract offers and to add a couple of new faces.
“The players have done wonderfully well this season,” said Long. “We were brilliant on Tuesday night and we’ve been pretty consistent all season. We want to build on this season but we know there are also certain areas of the team we feel we need to improve.”