Ilkeston FC’s youth policy bore its first fruit this week as teenager Tyrell Waite signed for League One side Notts County.
Waite, who turns 18 in July, has agreed a deal with the Meadow Lane club having shown great promise throughout his time at the New Manor Ground, both in the academy side and when appearing for the first team.
And although there will be no initial fee for Waite’s services, Robins chairman Dave Mantle felt the opportunity was one that Waite couldn’t be denied.
He told the club’s official website: “To be honest, the deal is not ideal from our point of view because there’s no up-front payment involved but manager Kevin Wilson and I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to stand in Tyrell’s way.
“We could have rejected their approach and held out in the hope that another club would eventually pay a fee for him. But Tyrell was keen to go to County and after giving it a lot of thought, we decided we wanted to be fair to him.
“We said when we set up the club some 18 months ago that our model would be based on discovering and developing young players and hopefully giving them a future in football, and it speaks volumes for our Academy that one of our lads has broken through so quickly.
“We’re delighted for Tyrell. He deserves his chance because he has worked very hard for it and hopefully he will be the first of many to emerge from our Academy and sign for a League club.”
The financial deal is based on appearance bonuses if Waite breaks through to the first-team, plus a sell-on clause. County will also play a pre-season friendly at the New Manor Ground for the next two years, with Ilkeston FC keeping the proceeds.
Mantle added: “It’s only right that I should pay tribute to Kevin Wilson and Darren Caskey for the work they’ve done with Tyrell and the clear message it sends out to good young players and their parents is that joining the Ilkeston FC Academy can be the stepping stone to big things.”
Meanwhile, manager Kevin Wilson believes the break until the Robins’ next game against Shepshed Dynamo on March 31 is both a help and a hindrance.
He feels the rest will do his players some good, but was disappointed not to be able to continue the momentum built up from three straight wins.
He said: “The players deserve a bit of time to relax having worked hard in recent weeks, but with the form being as it is it’s a shame in some ways that we can’t try and keep the momentum going.
“But we’ve essentially got the three points in the bank already given this weekend was the original date of the Market Drayton game which we won in September, so we’ll sit back and see how the sides around us get on.”
Fellow title challengers Carlton and Grantham met last night (Wednesday) as they respectively try to get closer to and pull away from the Robins in the race for promotion, which Wilson still believes could go to the wire.
He added: “We’re not playing that well at the moment but are picking up points at the business end of the season. There’s still plenty of football to be played and I really believe we can still be in the mix on the final day of the season.”