East Kilbride U20s boss Martin Fellowes reckons a successful season for his side ending with five players stepping up to senior level shows a thriving youth system at K-Park.
The Kilby youngsters enjoyed their Player of the Year awards night late last month after a successful 2021/22 term.
Daniel Connor won player of the year on an enjoyable night. Aidan Fellowes – the boss’ brother – grabbed top scorer and Committee Player of the Year, as Mark McLuckie won the manager’s POTY.
And now some of the squad will be moving up to senior level with first team manager Kevin Rutkiewicz ahead of the 2022/23 Lowland League season.
Ross Taylor, Aidan McDonald, Ross Smith, Reece McGuire, and Fellowes have been promoted, having already made their senior debuts and forming part of the Lowland League Cup winning squad.
Fellowes also works on the support staff with Billy Stark’s Scotland U19s and knows how hard it is for players to make it above youth level, not just professional.
The head development coach said: “I think the fact the five players who have signed senior contracts coming down different routes shows our pathway.
“Ross Taylor has been at the club since he was eight and has played the whole way through. Aidan went to Clyde and Queen’s Park and came back, and has been here since U19s.
“Ross Smith was of a similar pathway. He also went to Queen’s Park and came back. Aidan MacDonald and Reece McGuire have come down a completely different path by being released quite late on in their youth careers.
“We have managed to give them a shop window to put themselves back in playing youth football. We have got to convince these guys that a year or two at development football could get them back on the ladder. They have flourished at U20s and now will hopefully have a successful year at first team level.
“There are two plates we are trying to spin. We keep one eye on players coming through the youth pathway, but we will also look to give those who are still hungry and have been released by SPFL clubs a chance.”