Midfielder discusses Academy graduates
When Exeter City take on Reading in their first pre-season friendly at St James Park on Tuesday evening, it should offer a first run-out for the four new Academy graduates since they joined the professional ranks this summer.
Like Reading gaffer Nigel Adkins, City manager Paul Tisdale has also confirmed that he is likely to field a different XI in each half of the fixture to allow as many of his players to get their running-legs back on and that could mean maiden first-team appearances at the Park for Ollie Watkins, Connor Riley-Lowe and Jason Pope. Matt Jay, who featured in the first-team last season against Wycombe and Southend, is also expected to feature against the Royals.
Midfielder Matt Grimes, who turns 19 on the day of the game, was in a similar situation to the youngsters a year ago. It was only last summer that he first hooked up with the first-team squad and he quickly established himself as a regular starter.
And Grimes, who played regularly with the new crop during the second year of his scholarship as an under-18, feels that they all have the talent to succeed with Exeter if they put in the graft.
“I’ve played with all of them and they’re really good lads,” said Grimes. “They have bags and bags of ability – it’s all in their head now really as to whether they want to push and strive to do what I know they can.
“They all have the ability to play in League 2 for sure. It depends whether they want to do the extra work and put the extra time in to getting where they want to be.
“They are all rounded and hard-working lads, and I hope they can show that to Tis in training. I’m sure they’ll get their chance to show everyone what they can do.
“Tis likes to play young players, so there’s a chance that each will get their opportunity in the first-team. And when it comes, they’ll have to grab it.”