Austin hopes more starlets will go through the Poppies’ ranks

Mitch Austin led Kettering Town's under-21 team to the United Counties League Under-21 Division title this season

Mitch Austin led Kettering Town's under-21 team to the United Counties League Under-21 Division title this season

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Kettering Town Under-21 manager Mitch Austin is hoping more youngsters will break into the first-team picture at Latimer Park in the future.

The club’s Elite team were celebrating this week after a 4-0 win at MK College Elite last Saturday saw them clinch the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Under-21 Division title.

Austin’s team went one better than last season after they finished second behind last weekend’s opponents.

Poppies fans have seen the benefits of the under-21 side during recent months with the likes of Ben Baker and Silvano Obeng making their marks in the first-team’s Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division campaign.

And Austin is confident more will follow in their footsteps.

“I am very pleased to have won it, especially after we finished second last year,” he said.

“The only improvement from that could be to win it and doing that wasn’t easy because there were some good teams in there. Certainly the top five sides have a lot of talent in their squads.

“The important thing for us to to try to get players into Marcus Law’s squad and that’s what we will continue to try to do.

“I think it’s tough because there’s quite a big gap between the physicality of under-21 football to the first team.

“Lads like Ben and Silvano have taken their chances in the first team and haven’t let themselves down whatsoever.

“We just need to bridge that gap of physicality and maybe that’s something we will have to look at.”

As far as last weekend’s win was concerned, Austin added: “It was a very good performance to finish it off.

“I am just really pleased with the squad and the way they have progressed during the season.

“Hopefully, in another year we will see even more of the boys moving on to the first team.”

The Poppies, meanwhile, have confirmed a number of a away pre-season friendlies ahead of the next campaign.

The Kettering first team will play at Rothwell Corinthians on Tuesday, July 12 before heading to AFC Kempston Rovers the following Saturday, July 16 and will also travel to Rugby Town, now managed by former Poppies midfielder James Jepson, on Tuesday, August 1.

The Poppies will also send an ‘XI’ to Rushden & Higham United on Thursday, July 14, Bashley on Saturday, July 23 and Peterborough Northern Star on Tuesday, July 26.

The club are expected to confirm their home friendlies soon. All Saturday matches will kick off at 3pm and midweek games at 7.45pm.