Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says there is more to come from youngster Archie Collins after the teenager put pen to paper on a new long-term contract at the club.
Archie, who has started the last five games for City, scored a wonder goal in the 2-0 win over Swindon Town last time out.
Having started the Grecians EFL Cup game away at Premier League side Fulham in August, Archie had to be patient to get his first start in the league but his hard work in training has paid off with a string of fine performances over the Christmas and new year period.
“I am delighted with him,” said Matt. “We know at the club what Archie is capable of. We still think he is capable of a lot more than, probably, what he has shown so far in terms of the first team.
“So it is an exciting time for the club and for Archie. The goal on New Year’s Day was credit to him in terms of his performances in the last five or six games.
“He has played a slightly more defensive role than he is used to in terms of his upbringing with the academy, but physically for a young player to play centre midfield in League Two is a huge demand and he has got through it.
“However, he has got to keep on working and keep on improving. The contract secures the club and the player a little bit and just settles everyone down in terms of his future. Hopefully, if he keeps on developing then you think about Jayden Stockley and Jordan Storey getting sold in the past six months. He will be the next one.”
Matt also added that Archie’s rise to the first team is another example of the excellent work the academy does. Over the past few seasons, the likes of Tom Nichols, Matt Grimes, Ethan Ampadu, Jordan Storey, Matt Jay, Christy Pym, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Jamie Reid, James Hamon and Ollie Watkins have all graduated from the academy and gone on to make a big impact in the City first team.
“They keep producing players and they are going to keep on doing it because we have got a well-run academy with good coaches.
“If a player buys into what we are trying to do here then they are going to improve and we get the players coming to us, who are already good young players, and we just try and polish them off and get them first-team ready. In terms of the club, it reflects brilliantly on the academy and it is a source of income.”
Max Smallcombe, another bright young prospect to come out of the academy, has also had his contract extended until the end of the season.
Max, who has been capped by Wales four times at the under-17 age group, has recently been on loan at Tiverton where he will go to play again.
“Part of signing that contract, was the agreement that he would go out on loan again to Tiverton for the rest of the season,” explained Matt. “He missed a huge chunk of last season with an injury, which was a real shame.
“Character-wise he is a good lad. He is working on his game on a daily basis. He has got another six months on his contract and we will see where we are with Max towards the end of this season.
“When you get to a certain age as a second or third-year pros you have got to be pushing that first team so we will assess Max’s situation at the end of this season.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Mansfield Town on Saturday, March 30 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.