Danny Laws has hailed his AFC Sudbury Academy side as they target a trophy treble over the next week to cap an already memorable campaign.
The club’s director of football and youth development said the under-18s squad had ‘done magnificently’ to reach the finals of three separate competitions as their season boils to an exciting climax.
It comes after his young guns fired their way to the second round proper of the FA Youth Cup — the furthest the club has reached — bowing out only after a penalty shootout defeat at professional outfit Swindon Town.
But with the tantalising prospect of three trophies to come for the Academy, which is only in its second season as a full-time combined football and educational centre offering BTEC sports diplomas, Laws says it increases expectations for future seasons.
“The bar has been raised this season and, in the next week, we could raise that bar to phenomenal heights,” he said.
“It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work; it would be an amazing finale to the season to win them.
“Making the finals is a testament to the work of the lads and it shows the academy is starting to reach its potential.
“Bringing trophies back to the club would be proof that we are doing what we’re here to: boost youth football and player development.
“But we are a youth development programme above all, so while trophies are, of course, important and demonstrate our hard work, the focus is on getting better all the time.
“What we’re seeing now is the Academy coming to fruition, with several of the squad in talks about stepping up to the first team.”
The Academy are in the Thurlow Nunn Youth League Cup final against Dereham Town Under-18s tomorrow (Friday 7.30pm) as well as the Suffolk FA Boys Under-18 Midweek Cup final against Walsham-le-Willows on Monday (7.45pm).
The team’s final game of the season is against Swaffham Town in the Thurlow Nunn Youth League Championship Play-off final a week tomorrow (May 19, 7.45pm) — having already secured the South Division with only one loss.
Laws added: “The boys are really excited to play and very happy with the relatively kind schedule of the games; they should have time to rest up.
“We have a strong squad who have played well together and they deserve it.
“There are several players who won’t be eligible for the Academy next season, so I’ve told them to go out and enjoy themselves.
“But we’re not worried about replacing them as the club is doing really well in all age groups, both above and below the Academy.
“We had a highly successful induction last week; we’ve got really high calibre players coming through.”
n AFC also have their under-13s/14s and u16s sides in county cup finals at Kirkley & Pakefield on Sunday.
n AFC Gold week 2: £100 (115) D Palmer-Randle, £10 (281) V Alber, £10 (225) N Booth.