Blazing a trail for Wanderers graduates
YOUTH graduates Sanmi Odelusi and Tom Youngs can make the grade at first-team level for Wanderers, according to their former academy coach David Lee.
The Whites Under-18s boss was delighted to see Odelusi sign an extended contract last week on the same day Youngs was handed his first professional deal.
Odelusi’s contract will now run until 2016 while Youngs has signed for two years.
And Lee believes their deals are testament to the hard work they have both put in.
“It is fantastic news for both lads and great for the club to have young players breaking through from the youth set-up,” he said.
“Both can get better as they are still raw talents, but they have shown they can develop in the youth team then made the step up to the reserves.
“Sanmi is a bit further ahead having been involved with the first team a bit more, but both have potential.”
Odelusi was delighted to sign his extension last week, having already scored two goals for the first-team in the Capital One Cup first round win at Shrewsbury.
He said: “It’s now time for me to get my head down and continue to work hard. I want to be pushing for more first-team appearances.
“Hopefully I’ll get my chance. I want to show people how much it means for me to be here.
“Since the manager and his staff came in I feel they have helped develop my game both on and off the pitch. I want that to continue.”
Lee agrees there is more to come from the 20-year-old, who arrived as a schoolboy after spells with Reading and QPR.
He said: “I believe when you are a good goalscorer, you can do it at any level and Sanmi can certainly do that.
“He arrived as a raw youngster but with all the ingredients to do well and while he is not the finished article Sanmi has done really well so far.”
Fellow Londoner Youngs is a more recent graduate, having played a key role in attack for Lee’s team last season as they reached the quarter finals of the FA Youth Cup.
Along the way, they shocked Tottenham 8-4 at White Hart Lane – a game in which Youngs netted a hat-trick.
Lee believes that game saw Youngs kick on and has been impressed with his progress.
He added: “Tom joined us at under-16 level as a raw talent with pace and belief in his own ability.
“He was in and out of the side in his first year but really shone last season, becoming a regular and scoring as well as providing goals.
“His partnership with Zach Clough developed and I think that hat-trick at Spurs in February was huge for Tom.
“It gave him the impetus to kick on and he has gone into the U21s and continued to play well. I think he has warranted a deal and there is more to come from him.”
Whites boss Dougie Freedman also believes the 19-year-old, who made his senior debut as an extra-time substitute at Tranmere in the Capital One Cup earlier this season, has a bright future.
“Tom is a player we have high hopes for if he can continue his progress,” said Freedman.