This week, the club announced that Joe Willis, and Sam Perry have signed new deals that tie them down to the club. Both have earnt rave reviews through the academy this season, and were starting to be thought about for some first team football pre-lockdown.
Sam Perry is a holding midfielder, while Joe Willis is more of your typical central midfielder. Both made their first team debuts against Portsmouth in the Leasing.com trophy, and both more than held their own. Perry started the match, and put in a man of the match performance. His display has seen fans calling for him to be the holding midfielder we lacked last season, and with the way that football is, he could very well be getting a lot more minutes under his belt in the season to come.
Joe Willis came off the bench in the same game, and showed that he is more than capable. I feel Willis will struggle more for minutes, because it is an area we are strong in. Yes they are both centre-mids, but with Perry sitting deeper, and being more of a ball winner and physical presence, he offers something different to what we have.
There is still a long way to go for these young lads, and with the season ending the way it did, I think that they have missed some football that they were due to play. Clarke had been open in saying that Perry would be around the squad, and Willis was out on loan at Salisbury. Despite that, both are keen and eager to break into the squad, and get minutes under their belts.
It puts us in a very good position in that we have the potential, in years to come, for a midfield 3 of academy products. Bates and Willis, with Perry sat behind, is a midfield three that, if all develop the way they have been, could really be a solid unit.
I have no doubt we will be seeing more of them in the season to come. It is a credit to the academy and Miguel Llera, that both have developed enough to not only earn deals, but to be thought of as in the mix, but it is a credit to themselves too. Both have worked hard in the development games, and forced themselves to be thought of by Darrell Clarke.
Photo Cred – Express and Star