Teenage midfielder Sam Beckwith has been urged to show he’s the ‘best player in the U18s’ by Luton manager Graeme Jones after being awarded a development contract with the first team recently.
The 17-year-old, who has been with Luton since an U8, penned the deal after impressing the Town chief in the summer, making a handful of appearance during the Town’s pre-season friendlies.
We had to secure Sam because he’s one of those talents that you don’t see that often, so we’re delighted to get him signed.Graeme Jones
Beckwith has been a regular for the youth team since then and on how he can progress at Kenilworth Road now, Jones said: “First and foremost he’s got to be the best player in the U18s, that’s in the short term, between now and next season.
“Then from a club’s point of view, we’re looking to invest in the next step, as all of a sudden we’ve got a bit of a group of U23s here, not quite catered for perfectly at the minute.
“Most of them are with us, some of them are with the 18s, so there’s a middle ground that we need to find, a competitive games programme that’s going to help develop players.
“I’m working with Gary (Sweet, chief executive) on that, it doesn’t come overnight, but we’ve got a vision for where we want to take the club.”
Going into more details on why Beckwith was offered the deal, Jones continued: “He’s caught my eye Sam, which is the biggest complement I can give him, as that doesn’t happen very often.
“The old stand outs like in my day, are not there as much.
“Sam was a stand out, he came into the group pre-season, we needed some extra bodies and he was ready for his opportunity.
“He was very mature, a fantastic character, technically very capable, tactically really surprised me for a 17-year-old boy, and stepped up no problem.
“He wasn’t fazed, he’s six foot plus, a left footer, he’s still got some developing, maturing to be done.
“We had to secure Sam because he’s one of those talents that you don’t see that often, so we’re delighted to get him signed.”
Beckwith is one of a number of youth players who have come through the ranks since Andy Awford became Youth Academy and Development Manager in June 2015, following the likes of Corey Panter, Jake Peck and Tiernan Parker, the trio all signing similar deals earlier in the season.
Jones doesn’t think that Beckwith will be the last either, saying: “Andy Awford is a passionate man about his job.
“He’s been a manager, been a top player at Portsmouth, so he knows what it takes.
“He’s got a great manner about him, I think he looks for like-minded kind of players, and I think Sam Beckwith definitely comes into that category.
“We’ve got a few, which if you produce your own, it’s better than going out and not gambling because I like to think we do work, but it’s nice that we’ve got three or four options in the club that maybe will come through, but ultimately a player will decide that.”
Meanwhile, the Town chief knows that an U23 side needs to be set up at Kenilworth Road to give players like Beckwith and co regular football going forward.
He added: “That’s the next step for us.
“It would be men’s football for me, I’d get them into non-league football and League Two football, Conference football, if I possibly could.
“I think you really mature when you play against men, but the next step for development of our 18s is an U23s group.
“It doesn’t come overnight, but me and Gary are working on that at this minute in time, so hopefully in the future.”