AFC Sudbury re-sign Lewis O'Malley and Joe Grimwood but deal cannot be reached with stand-in skipper Baris Altintop
Mark Morsley is delighted to reveal he has highly-rated young defensive talents Lewis O’Malley and Joe Grimwood signed up to his AFC Sudbury squad for next season – though the Yellows look set to lose Baris Altintop.
Former Cambridge United Academy player O’Malley has penned a three-year contract after turning 18 and finishing his two-year scholarship at the club, while a one-year extension has been taken up on Grimwood’s deal.
But contract negotiations with fellow defender Altintop, who captained the side in Joe Whight’s injury absence last term despite being 19, have broken down.
While manager Morsley admitted it was ‘a shame’ Altintop was unable to reset what he termed ‘unrealistic expectations’ for the post lockdown landscape, he is very pleased to keep hold of O’Malley and Grimwood.
“They are both 18 and great prospects, so we are very lucky,” he said of the players who made 27 and 32 first-team appearances in 2019/20 respectively.
“Lewis is another one who caught my eye on tour in America and is a really good lad with a really good attitude.
“There are some footballers that are just destined to be captains and he has done it with the second team and the under-18s.
“I would definitely say Lewis is a future Sudbury captain, though I am sure Joe Whight, who is only 24, would have something to say about that.
“Joe (Grimwood) has worked really hard and having seen the pictures of him modelling the shirts he has built up.
“He has got to be the bravest footballer I have every worked with and that is what all the players have been saying on the website pieces Steve Screech has done – he is a throw-back centre-half.”
With Altintop, whose 37 appearances in the coronavirus-abandoned 2019/20 campaign was the highest in the squad, not set to return and Adam Bailey-Dennis having been released, Morsley sees O’Malley as another good centre-back option.
“In the academy team, the U18s, he has played in a (number) 4 and he played a lot of his first-team last season at right-back and did very well,” he said. “But I think probably his best position will be a centre-half.
“He reads the game very well and even though he is not tall he is very good in the air. His organisation and communication are both excellent.”
Despite graduating from the academy programme this summer, O’Malley will still be at the club full-time after taking up one of the new third-year courses offered, in personal training and gym instruction.
With the teenage pair adding to goalkeeper Paul Walker and strikers Freddie King and Sean Marks, it means Morsley has five players signed to contracts for the 2020/21 season.
Right-back Liam Bennett (Cambridge United/St Neots Town), centre-back Bailey-Dennis (unattached) and attacking midfielder Callum Harrison (Chelmsford) are the confirmed departures, with Altintop set to follow unless talks reopen.
As previously reported, Morsley has set July 6 as the players’ return date for pre-season, despite the continued uncertainty about when their 2020/21 Isthmian League North Division campaign will start.
Meanwhile, the club have confirmed their long-standing partnership with Sudbury-based aviation company The MEL Group has been extended, meaning their King’s Marsh ground will continue to be known as The MEL Group Stadium.
* AFC Gold week 6: £100 (290) Mrs L Crofton-Gibbs Joseph Close, Hadleigh; £10 (115) D Palmer, Randle, Lancaster Rd, Sudbury; £10 (191) R Meekings, Highfield Rd, Sudbury.
More by this authorRussell Claydon
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