Youngsters from Ilkeston FC’s academy are back home after what Robins’ boss Kevin Wilson has described as an ‘excellent’ two-week training and educational visit to the Spanish island of Mallorca.
The trip is part of a continuing link-up with La Liga side Real Mallorca and saw the young Robins play three matches while on the island.
The teenagers toured Real Mallorca’s stadium before being tutored by one of the host club’s academy coaches, an experience that Wilson feels that was extremely benefical for the young players.
Kevin Wilson said: “It was an excellent trip, very benefical both on and off the field. It was about learning about a different culture, learning a bit of the new language, and experiencing a new style of training to a certain extent, although I have to say that quite of a bit of what we instil in the lads here is part of the philosophy of the training at Real Mallorca’s academy too.
“We played matches and I think I learned more from the 7-1 defeat to a Real Mallorca under 18s side than the two other games we played on tour, where we won 6-1 and 5-3. The Real Mallorca game probably came a little too early in the trip for us, without wanting to make too many excuses, but it was very educational and there was no disgrace in losing to a Real Mallorca academy side that produces a lot of players who go on to play for big European sides.
“I think we sometimes forget that we are only three or four years down the road with our academy programme, but I think the way it went reflected well on the set-up we have at Ilkeston.
“All in all, it was very worthwhile and the lads were a credit to the club and themselves. The two hotels where we stayed were very happy with the way they behaved and I think on and off the pitch they have all handled themselves very well.
“First team matters were put on the back burner while we were out there so the focus could be on the academy, but I had some chats while I was out there with some of the academy lads who have been figuring for the first team, about their progress and what we want to see from them in the future.
“This week, I have decisions to make about which players we want to be part of the squad, so I need to make decisions sooner rather than later, so the players know where they stand.
“There are some difficult decisions to be made. No manager really enjoys that sort of thing but you have to put the needs of the club first and I think players generally tend to understand that. I don’t like doing it over the phone so it will all be done face-to-face.”
Meanwhile, tickets went on sale this week for the prestigious, all-ticket, pre-season friendly against Nottingham Forest, to take place at the New Manor Ground on Saturday, July 12, just 11 days into the reign of new Forest boss Stuart Pearce.
Kevin Wilson concluded: “It’s a good-looking fixture against Forest.
“They have promised to bring a strong team, and that will allow us to find out a lot of about our players against opposition of that calibre.
“There are one or two more interesting fixtures set to be announced in the next seven days, so pre-season is moving along already. We always try to get a good standard of opposition here and we have a reputation as the sort of club that teams from a good level want to come along to play against, and that’s proven by the fact we have had the likes of Forest, Sheffield United, Notts County, Chelsea under 21s, Leicester under 21s, Port Vale, Burton Albion, Rotherham etc coming here in recent pre-seasons. It’s all good for the reputation of the club.”