LAST week, Swindon Town confirmed four second-year scholars had successfully graduated from the club’s academy.

Goalkeeper Archie Matthews, versatile centre half Luke Haines, energetic midfielder Ralph Graham and pacey winger Jacob Bancroft all accepted one-year deals to remain at the club following the completion of their Merit League campaign earlier this month.

A week on from announcing his decision to promote four youngsters into Town’s senior team, under 18s manager David Farrell has penned his thoughts on each player to the Adver – highlighting what their strengths are, and where there is room for improvement.


“He is a very young second-year. His birthday falls a week before the cut-off, so he’s quite young.

“And he’s a big lad, so he has a lot more development left in him. Archie is a step ahead of the game in that sense.

“It’s good Richie (Wellens) had the faith to include him in the first-team. As a goalkeeper, you are unlikely to get game time as a back-up.

“But you never know, so it shows the first-team management do have faith in him prior to getting his professional deal.

“He’s a good shot-stopper, which is obviously key. He has work to do in other areas, like using his feet.

“But he has the willingness to learn on all technical aspects of his game. He’ll work hard for sure.”


“Luke has played slightly more as a centre back than he has in midfield this season – I played him more in midfield towards the end of the season.

“I think he’ll end up as a centre half, more than a midfield player. But time will tell.

“You never know how these players will react in a professional environment. He will be surrounded by players that are a lot older and more capable.

“But he is capable in defence and midfield. He’s got the personality to adapt to the first team.

“In terms of competition and being a leader, I think he’ll be fine. He’s not the type of player to take advice off of players without giving something back.

“That will hold him in good stead, because that kind of thing happens at that level.”

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“Ralph has the capability to be a very effective all-round midfielder at professional level.

“He can go box to box when he is properly switched on. He can score goals, it technically very good and has a good range of passing.

“He needs to work on other areas, but he has the key attributes needed to be a professional footballer.”

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“He’s got some unbelievable physical attributes, he’s very quick and a bit of a winger really.

“That’s a bit of a diamond in the modern-day game. However, Richie (Wellens) wants to play next season, Jacob will have to try and fit in with that.

“He’s got physical strengths for sure. Pace is his best element. He now has to combine that with awareness of other people and quality of balls that he can deliver into the box.

“His willingness to learn is very high, he has a great chance too.”

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Farrell added decision-making proved extremely difficult, and said players that failed to make the grade have every opportunity to prove himself and academy manager Alan McLoughlin wrong in the future.

He added: “Decisions are so hard, you have to try and look to the future and consider how players will develop.

“You’ve got to try and pick out the players that might not develop how you would want them to. It’s always a guessing game, but you go on your experience and what you know about the game.

“Unfortunately, we have to deliver bad news as much as we do good. Sometimes we can be wrong, and it can come back to bite you.”