IAN KING’S burgeoning Redditch United side received a major boost this week with the news talented attacker Rhys Hilton will be staying at the Trico Stadium for the remainder of the campaign.
The 18-year-old – who opened the scoring in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Southern Premier Central title hopefuls AFC Rushden & Diamonds – has officially joined the Reds on a youth loan for the rest of the season on the back of signing his first professional contract with Birmingham City.
Hilton, who can operate as a forward or a winger, was spotted playing local football for Copsewood FC in 2016. The Coventry-born teenager signed as a scholar 12 months later but his first season among the full-time ranks was seriously hampered by an ankle injury.
He celebrated his return to U18s action with a goal in November 2018 and went on to score five times in 14 PDL outings last season, as well as gaining first team experience at Coventry Sphinx over the Christmas period.
The injury situation led to a delay in Blues offering the 5ft 7in player a professional deal but, having been invited back to pre-season training at St Andrew’s, Hilton has impressed more than enough to earn a one-year contract with the Championship club and will look to prove why as he continues to turn out for the Reds.
Hilton will continue to train with Blues and can turn out for the club in non-first team fixtures.
Hilton was on the mark for Redditch in the 28th minute of Saturday’s draw with Rushden as King’s young side again impressed in extending their unbeaten run to four games, during which they have taken eight points.
Hilton cut inside before firing low past Ben Heath and it was nearly 2-0 when Connor Deards’ lob was just cleared following a bad mix-up between the keeper and Jack Ashton.
Redditch had matched their much-fancied visitors in the first half but were put under intense periods of pressure in the second half.
Stoic defending looked like it just might be rewarded with three points, but with eight minutes remaining Ryan Dove rifled the ball home through a ruck of players to earn the visitors a deserved share of the spoils.
A big Reds following is expected at Sutton Coldfield Town this Saturday for the FA Cup first qualifying round tie as United aim to improve on a dismal recent record in the competition.
It is certainly a good chance to do so against a Sutton side who have lost all four games so far in Northern Premier League Division One South East, although the Royals won 2-1 at Gresley in the preliminary round to reach this stage.
Meanwhile, United have been drawn at home to West Bromwich Albion in the first round of the Birmingham Senior Cup. A date for the tie is still to be confirmed.