Prospect Henworth shines with England

U19s defender opens up about his time with Harriers and progress with the England Colleges FA National Team…

Having returned from spending two days at St. George’s Park “training, eating and preparing like a professional”, U19s defender Luke Henworth has been reflecting on the experience, as well as his time with Harriers so far.

Henworth had to progress through different sets of trials to reach the England Colleges FA National Team’s squad – containing 26 players – that spent some time training and playing at the National Football Centre.

Discussing the progress of being a successful trialist, Henworth enjoyed the process and thanked the Harriers Academy coaches for putting faith in him.

“It was a really good experience, and was the first time I had stayed overnight at St. George’s Park, training, eating and preparing like a professional,” said Henworth.

“At the first trial there were 30 players, and 23 of them were midfielders, so I had quite a good chance of getting through that one.

“But at the second trial, the quality of the players did rise a lot because there were a lot more players playing in my position, and the sessions were flowing more quickly – 100 miles per hour which is a bit like at Academy level – which was really refreshing.

“There are now a couple more fixtures against Australia, Wales and Reading Academy, and then there’s the tour in February to Italy.

“There’s 26 players in the squad and they are picking 20 to go [to Italy] and compete in a tournament against national teams.

“I want to say thank-you to my coaches as if they didn’t put my name forward for that first trial, then I wouldn’t have been able to progress into the final stages”.

“…It’s about having that freedom again, and the fact that I feel like I’m respected a bit more respected now… it helps me to become more confident…” Luke Henworth

Henworth joined Harriers eighteen months ago as part of the club’s Junior Academy at U16s level, having spent the large majority of his junior years with Wolverhampton Wanderers, and moved into our U19s programme ahead of the current season.

The centre-back opened up about his opinion on the reasons why he personally “wasn’t enjoying” his time with the Premier League side as his spell there drew to a close, but is now enjoying some freedom and growing in confidence at COSE.

“[Being at Harriers] has really helped with my football career because I’ve been progressing and developing like I’ve wanted to, it’s given me a bit of self-worth again as I lost a bit of that at the end of my Wolves career because I wasn’t enjoying it any more – that’s why I left,” admitted Henworth.

“Playing well consistently has really helped me get on with my footballing career, and it’s given me belief again that I can make it.

“It’s about having that freedom again, and the fact that I feel like I’m respected a bit more respected now… it helps me to become more confident”.

Senior Academy Coach Jimmy O’Connor also expressed his delight at Henworth’s progression and achievement – another player to move do so as part of the Harriers pathway – and is looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

“I’m delighted, as obviously all of the staff are at the club and we should be really proud of Luke as it’s a great accomplishment,” said O’Connor.

“Representing your country at any level is a fantastic achievement.

“Like any young player, you have ups and downs, but it’s about dedicating yourself to your sport and also your academic studies, and Luke does both of those things really well so he ticks all the right boxes and has a bright future ahead of him if he sticks to those beliefs.

“We’ve had a few lads over the last couple of years go in and around the first team, this year we’ve had Jaiden White, Reiss Taylor-Randle and, more recently, Dennis Digie, there is a pathway to get into the first team.

“…It’s about dedicating yourself to your sport and also your academic studies, and Luke does both of those things really well so he ticks all the right boxes… Jimmy O’Connor

“Hopefully in the next 12-18 months Luke will be another one on that road, and that hopefully it’s a shining light to the rest of the players in the Academy that they can get there too”.

As part of his time with the Academy, Henworth has been working hard both on and off the pitch through working towards vital qualifications.

“The hours for my football are quite relaxed but when I do go out any do extra things – such as the England Colleges trials – I do have to take time to catch up,” said Henworth.

“The tutors, Luke [Astley], Andy [Glover] and Adam [Evans] do allow me to do quite well by giving me extra time in lessons, or changing one of my lessons to catch up”.

Henworth is the second Harriers player in as many years to progress through ECFA trials to reach the National Team, with Jaiden White repeating the feat 12 months ago.

White has since earnt his first professional contract with the club – one of four Academy players to do so in 2019 –  which is helping Henworth to gain motivation for success.

“To see that I’m following the same tracks as [Jaiden White] is very motivating, it’s encouraging me to do the same things as him and potentially do better than him because I always aspire to be better than the people surrounding me”.

WATCH: Full interviews with Henworth and O’Connor are available on our Academy YouTube channel.

February 2020 sees Harriers host their next set of U19s trials for the 2020/21 season!

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This article is about: Academy, Education, Youth


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