Danny Laws is hopeful goalkeeper Luca Collins will take his chance at Colchester United with both hands to become the first AFC Sudbury Academy player to turn pro.
The regular stopper in the club’s AFC Sudbury Reserves Thurlow Nunn League First Division side, despite not being 18 for another month, is looking to earn himself a deal at the SkyBet League Two club after being invited to train and play with their under-18 and under-23 development sides.
He is yet to make a competitive first-team appearance at King’s Marsh, but Laws, head of the club’s academy, believes that is down to unfortunate timing, rather than talent.
A holiday in Dubai coincided with Paul Walker’s finger injury, meaning Curtis Child, a former academy goalkeeper, came back to help plug the gap for a game before manager Mark Morsley brought in experienced stopper Jake Jessup on loan from Chelmsford City until Walker was back.
Former Southend United and Ipswich Town academy player Collins has been combining his studies at AFC with training and playing at Colchester under the watchful eye of former professional Paul Smith, the club’s head of goalkeeping, since the turn of the year.
His latest appearance was for the under-18s at Crewe Alexandra on March 10, a 3-1 win for Colchester, while he has also appeared on the bench a number of times for the under-23s.
He was due to play in their home game against Bolton Wanderers at Florence Park on Saturday, before it was postponed.
“I am really pleased for Luca who has got the reward for his performances to play at a professional club,” said Laws of the second-year scholar.
“We will have to wait and see and we have certainly got our fingers crossed for him.”
Laws called Collins back to King’s Marsh ahead of last night’s scheduled Suffolk Boys Under-18s Midweek Cup semi-final at Woodbridge Town as AFC look to retain the trophy they have held for the last two seasons.
Without his presence in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division on Saturday, AFC Sudbury Reserves (9th) fell to a 7-0 defeat at fourth-placed Swaffham Town.
Having set up a full-time academy in the summer of 2015, AFC Sudbury came mighty close to having their first academy player graduate into the professional ranks last season when representatives of Premier League Crystal Palace met AFC chiefs in a bid to take defender Tyler French, before the move broke down ahead of the close of the January transfer window.
French was taken on trial by Leicester City earlier this campaign, but was not offered a deal and signed improved terms with Sudbury.