PAUL Bodin has backed four of the young players he nurtured through the Swindon Town academy to find opportunities elsewhere following their release from the club.

Aaron Oakley, Leigh Bedwell, Mark Francis and Alex Ferguson were all told recently that they were surplus to requirements at the County Ground and the quartet are now free to find new clubs over the summer.

Bodin knows all of them well, having worked with them from a tender age, and he is confident they have the determination not to allow this blow to be terminal for their careers.

“I’ve read a couple of tweets from the boys,” he told the Advertiser. “Aaron and Bedders have been at the club 10 and 11 years respectively and that’s a massive part of their lives. They’re 20-year-old lads and for half their lives they’ve been associated with and supported Swindon Town.

“It’s devastating when it happens but they’ve got to believe in their ability and hope they get an opportunity. Bedders had his illness last year and Aaron was out for 10 months with his foot problem, so it’s very difficult but things are tight at football clubs. Budgets have to be met and perhaps if they have a regular under 21 game they could have progressed a little more, they may have been registered by the first team.

“It happens throughout football and it’s the hardest part. It’s the worst part of the job but you’ve got to look at the overall picture and if they feel they’re not quite ready to go into the first team that’s their decision. It’s not nice but you just hope they bounce back.

“They could drop into the second division or the Conference and maybe there’ll be an opportunity for them. Obviously Franno and Fergie didn’t get a first-team chance, they were out on loan quite a bit, and anyone who doesn’t get an opportunity will say ‘I was never really given a real chance’.

“They’ve got to go out and find themselves another opportunity.”