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Hot-shot Gilbert backed to break into the first team

HIGH HOPES: Danny Laws
HIGH HOPES: Danny Laws

AFC Sudbury Reserves boss Danny Laws believes Charlie Gilbert has a big chance of a breakthrough into the first team this season.

The 18-year-old striker joined AFC’s academy in September, and has already made a name for himself by scoring 12 goals in 10 games for Laws’ Reserves so far this season.

Gilbert’s goalscoring exploits earned him a call-up to the Sudbury first team at the end of last month, with the teenager making his senior debut as a second-half substitute in the 2-1 win against Dereham Town.

And Laws, who is also the director of football and youth development at AFC’s academy, is hopeful more appearances will follow for Gilbert during the rest of the season.

“He’s been knocking on the door for a call-up to the first team,” the ex-AFCcaretaker manager said.

“Charlie’s got goalscoring pedigree, but he’s also added so much more to his game in the last month or two.

“The academy has been running since July and he’s one of a number of really good prospects coming through.

“Another one who had their debut for the first team recently was Ryan McNicholas, who is only 16-years-old.

“Tyler French is another one who has recently travelled with the first team.

“Harry Seal, one of the older boys, has played for the first team this year, as has Ollie Dunlop, and we are already in the process of recruiting under-16s for next season.”

Sudbury Reserves return to action in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division this weekend after a two-week break, as promotion chasers Great Yarmouth Town visit the Wardale Williams Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Laws has had a fortnight to dissect their last outing, that being a 6-1 home defeat to league leaders Wivenhoe Town, which ended a three-match winning run.

AFC will have the chance for revenge next week when they visit Wivenhoe in the first round of the First Division Knockout Cup on Wednesday night (7.45pm).

Sudbury shocked Great Yarmouth in the final of the First Division-exclusive competition last season, with Jordan Blackwell’s 74th minute strike helping them lift the trophy back in May.

n Elsewhere in the First Division, Cornard United are back from a two-week break when they host Leiston Reserves on Saturday (3pm).

The Ards have won three of their last five games in all competitions, with the latest a 5-2 victory at Woodbridge Town at the end of last month.

n Long Melford advanced to the quarter-finals of the League Challenge Cup after beating Saffron Walden Town 5-3 on penalties on Tuesday.

Jamie Griffiths struck twice for the Villagers to send the second round tie to penalties, after a Marc Abbott brace had put the hosts 2-0 up.

Sam Mansfield made the crucial save in the shootout to send Melford into the last eight, which will take place in the early months of 2016.

The Villagers return to Premier Division action with a trip to struggling Walsham-le-Willows on Saturday (3pm).

n Hadleigh United will hope to get back to winning ways when they entertain FC Clacton at the Millfield on Saturday (3pm).

The Brettsiders finished Saturday’s 2-1 defeat away at Kirkley and Pakefield with nine men, after Liam Scopes and Kris Rose both received red cards.

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