Feature: The Young Guns

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This summer saw youngsters Charlie Bailey and Jack Kelleher sign their first professional contracts and 10 games into the season we have caught up with them to check their progress to date.

Bailey became the first ever Morecambe Development Centre graduate to play for the first team when he came off the bench against Walsall recently.

The 18-year-old played the last 25 minutes in the 2-0 win and made  his own little piece of history after becoming the first youngster to rise through the ranks of the Development Centre and his scholarship.

He said: “It’s massive because no other lad around here has done it. It’s just a great feeling really!”

When growing up in Morecambe his football idols were Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard who play in central midfield like Charlie himself. The 18-year-old has had a very impressive youth team career. As well as captaining the youth team he has also won the second year academy player of the year award.

The midfielder talked about making his first team debut and said: “Once I was waiting to come on the nerves kicked in.” He added: “When I came on we went up the pitch straight up and Tom Barkhuizen scored so that eased the nerves massively.”

The development centre is run by Neil Wainwright and Michael Stringfellow for different age groups starting from the Under 8’s up to Under 16’s. Charlie Bailey joined when he was 13 years old and spent 3 years at the Development Centre training on Friday evenings.

After that, he was offered a scholarship at Lancaster and Morecambe College. He impressed enough to earn his first professional contract this summer.

As well as training sessions the Development Centre also plays youth teams from other clubs such as Blackburn and Burnley. Charlie Bailey said: “It’s a good place to start really.” He also advised anyone at the development centre who aspires to play for the senior team to keep their head down and work as hard as they can.

Comparing the difference between youth football and senior football, he said: “It’s a massive difference. Literally everything about it- the expectations and the intensity are a lot higher.” He also talked about his aims for this season saying he wants to “improve as a player and play as many games as I can.”

The 18-year-old credits the team for helping him fit into the dressing room. He said: “All the lads are great. They all fit you in perfectly. As soon as I walked in they were all up introducing themselves. They’re all a great bunch of lads.”

He singled out Barry Roche by saying “He’s unbelievable. He’ll always talk to me for any reason and always offers me lifts everywhere.”

The midfielder also mentioned Alex Kenyon and Jamie Devitt who he sits next to in the dressing room.

Jack Kelleher has also been adjusting to his first season as a professional footballer after rising through the ranks of the Lancashire and Morecambe College.

The 18-year-old spent time out on loan at Kendal Town where he scored 3 goals in 3 starts. The striker talked about his time there he said: “I enjoyed it because in the youth team games I was getting the ball and had so much time. It was just good to play men’s football and have fans there.”

The Liverpudlian started his career in the Everton youth team until he was released for being too small. He reflects on his time there by saying “I was weak but football wise I backed myself…I wasn’t how I am now physically.”

Jack was determined to make it as a professional footballer and has always been a passionate football fan. He said: “I watched so much football. Any league. Literally whatever was on TV. I still do.”

Since then he has bounced back and put in many impressive performances for the Morecambe reserve side. Last season he scored 3 goals in 6 appearances for the reserve team as well as going out on loan at Kendal Town.

Jack suffered a small hamstring tear last season due to the amount of games he played and the injury has reoccurred this season. He said: “It’s not a big problem but now it’s happened twice, it’s frustrating.”

He added, “My hamstrings are a lot stronger now so hopefully this will be the last time that this happens…Since I’ve signed I’ve put on a lot of muscle.”

Jack talked about the moments he signed his first ever professional contract by saying “I went to the gaffer’s office and spoke to him about the plans for this year. Jim Bentley said he really likes me as a player and that he and Kenny McKenna wanted to work on me as a player.”

Talking about fitting into the dressing room he said: “It’s great. I’m in a car with Fleming, Goodall, McGowan and Murphy. We have a good laugh and everyone gets on here so it’s very easy to fit in to be honest.”

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