Youngsters playing their part as Welwyn Garden City look to continue punching above their weight

Welwyn Garden City manager Nick Ironton

Welwyn Garden City manager Nick Ironton gives instructions during a water break in pre-season. - Credit: DANNY LOO

They created the U23 team with the express determination to supplement the first team and after just one disrupted season, Welwyn Garden City manager Nick Ironton says those plans are already coming to fruition.

The Citizens have retained the majority of last season's squad and many of them were at the club the year prior to that, the first of the disrupted pandemic campaigns which ended with Welwyn in fourth.

But to that the boss has already added a number of the talented youngsters with plenty of others pushing for recognition through pre-season.

Cyrus Babaie of Welwyn Garden City FC

Cyrus Babaie is one of the youngsters who has impressed during pre-season for Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: DANNY LOO

Ironton said: "Three of them are already in my squad. Ryan Doherty has been excellent, Harrison Cage and Cyrus Babaie have done well and there are still players in there who have an opportunity to play in the first team. 

"I’ve said to them all that is a blank canvas for everyone. If you perform, you’ve got half a chance of getting in the first-team. 

"I’ve got a big squad. I’ve only really lost Robbie Buchanan from last year [to Ware] but Ben Spaul has signed on, Matty Campbell-Mhlope has signed on and hopefully Patrick Tshikala and Charlie Payne can stay fit. 

"It looks good and we’ll see what transpires."

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The division will look different this year with a number of sides move laterally while their places have been taken by the likes of Ware, FC Romania, Hertford Town and Colney Heath.

But while the message inwardly and within the safety of the dressing room walls may be something completely different, the public persona from Ironton and WGC as a whole is one of plucky underdogs.

Nick Ironton, Welwyn Garden City FC manager

Nick Ironton, manager of Welwyn Garden City, during the pre-season friendly with Baldock Town. - Credit: DANNY LOO

"I wouldn’t say [we're one of the favourites]," he said. "Realistically we have one of the smallest budgets in the division but we’re punching above our weight and I’ve got some good players who can play a lot higher. 

"And they are all playing here for the right reasons. I know there is nobody playing for us who is money-motivated.

"I’m really pleased to have Benjamin Spaul on board, Matty Campbell has looked sharp too.

"If we can get the goals from the chances I know we’ll create, that has been the only thing that lets us down at the minute, but the forwards that we have got this year can get them. 

"I’m optimistic. We’re always hard to score against."

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