AFC’s French is set to leave as interest hots up

FOOTBALL - Needham Market v AFC Sudbury

Pictured: Tyler French (S)
FOOTBALL - Needham Market v AFC Sudbury Pictured: Tyler French (S)

AFC Sudbury are set to cash in on academy starlet Tyler French — and manager Jamie Godbold believes he has enough potential to make the big jump up to the Football League.

Although the versatile defender has been effectively on trial with Ipswich Town for more than three months now, the Free Press understands clubs including Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and even as far afield as Scottish side Aberdeen have had eyes on him.

French, who began his footballing education in his home village in Long Melford’s academy, used up his two-game trial allowance at Portman Road. But he has continued to train with the Sky Bet Championship side in-between playing for AFC’s first team in the Ryman League Premier Division.

And Godbold has backed the 17-year-old, who he admits will inevitably move on soon, to make it in the professional ranks.

“If he continues to play how he has played in the last five to six games I do not think he will be with us much longer, hence why we keep having scouts coming through the gates,” he said.

“But I think he is getting a real good education here. He is only 17 and playing at this level, which I don’t think too many 17-year-olds are.

“He is being exposed to a different and variety of centre-forwards and wingers that you wouldn’t perhaps get in academy football.

“So whatever happens I think he will be snapped up by a club. It is just a case of when; whether it is now or whether it is in the summer.

“If it is in the summer he will have another half season playing at this level, which will only do him good. We will just have to see what happens with that.”

The Long Melford-based teenager signed a three-year deal with Sudbury in September, a month before Ipswich’s interest resulted in a trial arrangement, meaning the club would be entitled to a transfer fee.

And while the Blues’ academy coach and former Ipswich and Norwich striker Alan Lee has become a frequent visitor to watch him at The Wardale Williams Stadium, it is understood The Tractor Boys are yet to make a formal offer.

It is not yet clear whether the terms of the trial mean an agreement is in place for Town to have first refusal, but with the January transfer window set to close a fortnight on Tuesday, January 31, a decision is due soon.

“He has got a great temperament and nothing seems to phase him,” said Godbold.

“And people have obviously seen his qualities and how he can defend.”

n Assistant manager Andy Reynolds has stressed the importance of ‘finding our killer instinct before they find theirs’ to bounce back from home defeats in the league and cup when The Yellows (16th) begin a crucial run of games at second-from-bottom Hendon on Saturday (3pm).

They then travel to Leatherhead (17th) on Wednesday (7.45pm).