The search for the heir to Jamie Vardy’s crown is heating up with the Leicester City and England star’s V9 Academy scouts busily finalising the hopefuls.
Vardy, who played Non-League football for Stocksbridge Park Steels, FC Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town, has dipped into his own pocket to ensure the second year of the five-day training camp would follow-up last season’s success.
In all, 42 players from Non-League, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be selected for the Academy which will be held at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus in June.
And Head of Recruitment Lee Tucker says the talent pool runs deep.
“Some people maybe thought doing V9 every year wouldn’t work because you’re looking at the same players,” Tucker told The NLP.
“But I think this year has proven we’re going for a new cohort of players and we’re still excited we can hit our target of four players getting moves into the Football League.
“We’re looking at 42 new players and the rationale is we feel it’s such an incredible opportunity that we want those new players to have that rather than give lads a repeat experience of something that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Our plans have been a little bit hit by the weather, but we’re getting around to as many games as possible.
“It’s getting to the last few weeks of recruitment, but there’s still time to apply. The programme for the week is pretty much organised and we’ve had meetings at the Etihad – they are looking forward to welcoming us again.”
Scouts from across the country will attend the camp and Tucker says last year’s success can also be measured by the moves within Non-League.
“We’ve had a great number of applications again, which has been really pleasing,” Tucker said.
“There’s not been as much interest from the National League, but from Steps 2 down there’s been a lot of interest and some really good recommendations put forward.
“Last year we had five players go into the Football League, including Mikel Miller who went to Hamilton in Scotland.
“The big success story has been Danny Newton, who went on to join Stevenage from Tamworth.
Danny’s scored 15 goals in League Two and is doing exceptionally well. We’ve invited him to give a talk at V9 this year.
“It just shows there are players more than capable of stepping up.
“But also another success story was the amount of players who moved up in Non-League – some from part-time into full-time.
“Zac McEachran went to Oxford City, Brandon Hall joined Kidderminster Harriers, Jamie Butler is at Sutton United and Elliott Durrell looks like he’s on the cusp of going into the Football League with Macclesfield.
“So we’ve had a lot of success beyond the five headline moves.”
To apply visit www.v9academy.co.uk
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday