By Daniel Prince – article continues below video
Jon King says he has got ‘no hesitation’ in giving players from South Shields’ Under-18s side an opportunity at senior level.
Ryan Bolam is expected to make another appearance for the first-team tomorrow (Saturday) when the Mariners travel to Norton and Stockton Ancients.
If he plays, it would be the 17-year-old’s seventh game for the senior side, while his Under-18 team-mates Dan Pickering and Ewan Simpson have also represented the first-team this season.
King handed left-back Simpson a debut as a substitute in last week’s game against Seaham Red Star at Peterlee, while Pickering has made two substitute appearances.
Members of Kevin Bolam’s Under-18s side – who play in the Durham County FA League – have consistently attended first-team training this season, and King has been impressed with them.
Bolam has made the biggest impact at senior level – he scored on his debut, at Stokesley, in doing so becoming the youngest goalscorer for Shields in the modern era – and King is happy to have him available for tomorrow’s game.
He would also like to hand appearances to more members of the Under-18s outfit before the end of the season.
The Shields manager said: “Ryan Bolam will come into the squad, and I’ve been liaising with Kevin Bolam, because I know they’ve got a big game tomorrow.
“We’ll be looking to give more of the Under-18s lads a run-out before the end of the season, if possible.
“Ryan Bolam has got quite a bit of experience now playing in the Northern League, and has got loads of ability.
“He has great delivery from set pieces, and produced a couple of great crosses against Seaham, but unfortunately we couldn’t take advantage of them.
“He’s got pace, gets stuck in and has got a good trick, so it’s great to have him in the squad.
“He has been involved quite a bit, and I’d love to do that with more of the players.
“I’m pleased for Ewan as well. He came on last week into a tough game when Seaham Red Star were pushing for goals.
“He went into a back three and did really well.
“I think it’s great that we’ve got such a good Under-18s side, and I’ve got no hesitation in giving the lads games, because they are good players.
“It’s important we take our time with these young players, and I’m sure if we introduce them in the right way, they’re going to do very well for the club.
“So much credit has to go to Kevin Bolam for how he has developed his players and his team, and it’s great to see so many good 16 and 17-year-olds coming through.”
Meanwhile, Shields Under-18s are also in league action tomorrow.
They travel to New Hartley Juniors for a 12.30pm kick-off in the Durham County FA League, with Shields sitting sixth heading into the fixture, two places and four points ahead of their opponents.