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Toronto FC increases search for youngsters

Toronto FC have increased their search for quality youngsters by entering the second stage of their youth training camps or combines.

Overseen by TFC youth academy coach Stuart Neely, the club held their second combine at Ottawa's Landsdowne Park after already being in Waterloo with plans to go to Hamilton next.

Neely, with assistance from academy senior team coach Paul Bent, was looking at about 80 youngsters ranging from 14 to 17 years of age and admitted that you were given a better opportunity if you are younger.

"The (born in) '93s and '94s will have to be a really solid standout, knocking at the door," he said before training began. "It's tough to say this, but the younger you are the more chance you have. The '93 players are usually very similar."

Neely said he was hoping to find something in the players that he could work with and help turn them into complete footballers - unlike what he was in his playing days.

"I was a centre half," he said. "I was there to just do a job. Now that's exactly what I don't want. I want to make a player a pure footballer. None of this win the ball and kick it and if you can't kick the ball, kick the player.

"I want attacking skills, movement on and off the ball, fluidity and a mind for the game. You only get a handful of minutes with the ball at your feet in a game. So, know how to find space, open up space, create space."

And there were plans to continue to hold these combines to keep improving the standard of players in Canada.

"We don't want to just come back next year. We are looking at multiple visits to see players, to visit clubs, to put on training sessions," he concluded.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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