Hot ECU prospects head to Villa

ECU Joondalup's latest hot prospects will fly overseas next week to get a first-hand feel for life at an English Premier League club.

Trent Ostler, Ben Hinshelwood and Dylan Leonard, from the under-13 team, and under-15 player Declan Hughes will spend two weeks at Aston Villa where they will train at the club's Bodymoor Heath ground.

ECU Joondalup Director of Football Steve Amphlett said the players, who had their hearts set on professional careers, would benefit from training with some of England's best young players, while their future progress would be monitored by Villa officials.

Ostler, Hinshelwood, Leonard and Hughes are hoping to follow in the footsteps of current Villa midfielder Chris Herd, whose regular trips from Joondalup to England resulted in a professional deal with the Birmingham-based club.

Joondalup has a history of success in producing talented players with the likes of Middlesbrough's Rhys Williams, Millwall defender Shane Lowry and current Perth Glory players Brandon O'Neill and Rostyn Griffiths also among the graduates to have played professionally.

More recently, Perth-born defender Jordan Lyden has excelled at Villa's Academy after being identified by the Premier League club when he was 11.

Steve Amphlett said ECU set high standards in developing a system, which identified talented players and gave them excellent opportunities to progress.

"I don't think there's a club anywhere in Australia that has had more success in giving professional opportunities to young players," he said.

"And this is not just a one-way street. We're also in the habit of bringing professional players back to our club with players like Jon Stynes (Kilmarnock), John Higgins (Birmingham City) Andy Higgins (Portsmouth) and Tommy Amphlett (Perth Glory).

"My feeling is that continuity of coaching is a big plus for us. I've been around the place for 14 years and there are other coaches like John Higgins, Dale McCulloch and John Brown, who have been here for a very long time and the new coaches who come in very quickly understand our logic and development plans.

"We know what we want from the players and they know what is expected of them."

Amphlett acknowledged the club's success in identifying and developing young talent made it tough on the first team coach, although he expected things to be different under McCulloch in the inaugural National Premier Leagues WA.

"At the same time as producing players who are good enough to go into the A-League and overseas, we also want to make the first-team a competitive force and we'll be giving Dale every bit of help to do that," Amphlett said.

"It's always tough on the first team coach because our best young players are developed to a point where they will move to better leagues. But we want to be very competitive here in WA as well."


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