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The under-18s have been beaten twice in the last week, losing 6-1 at Leeds last Saturday in the U18 Premier League and then the Lancashire Youth Cup semi-final against Blackpool, albeit on penalties.

Looking at the line ups, there have been some new names from the under-16s, likely to become first year scholars next season, but there have been some established under-18 players missing with news surfacing that they’ve been playing elsewhere.

Midfielder Will Couch (pictured) was reportedly in the Sheffield Wednesday under-23 team that drew 2-2 at Swansea on Monday of this week. On the following day, central defender Jack Leckie and midfielder Tremaine Eastmond lined up for Hull in the same league in their 1-0 win at Ipswich.

Whether that means these three players will be leaving at the end of the season remains unknown. Such news has often been published in early April or even March but last year it was right at the end of May before the club released the academy retained list.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the three are involved tomorrow when the under-18s face FA Youth Cup finalists Nottingham Forest at Gawthorpe. We are currently twelfth in the U18 Premier League North Group but have a seven point advantage over the two teams below us and with a game in hand.

Forest, in their first season in this league, are above us courtesy of goal difference brought about by that 6-1 result at Leeds. A win for either of us could push us into mid-table.

Forest turned in a remarkable performance last Monday in beating Chelsea 3-1 to book a date with Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup final. That’s some achievement against Chelsea who have played in eight of the ten previous finals.

We won the away game against them 3-0 with Jacson Coppack, Dan Sassi and Trevon Bryan on the scoresheet but the last time we played Forest at home was in the Professional Development League (Category 2) in November 2019 which ended in a 1-1 draw with our goal scored by Cricky Conn-Clarke.

Tomorrow’s game against Forest kicks off at 1 p.m. at Gawthorpe.

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