ALEX SMITHIES is the latest Football League Young Player of the Month.
Town’s talented 20-year-old keeper follows in the footsteps of Norwich striker Chris Martin and Wigan frontman Victor Moses, who won the inaugural award in December when he was still at Crystal Palace.
All players who either turn 21 this season or are younger, and play in the Championship, League I or League II are considered for the award.
During February, when he kept three clean sheets and helped Town remain unbeaten in seven games, England junior international Smithies was one of 284 players to fall into the age range.
Andy Williamson, the Football League’s chief operating officer, said: “Alex Smithies is widely regarded as an outstanding young goalkeeper with the potential to go to the very top.
“To play week in, week out in such an important and responsible position at such a young age shows he has the temperament and talent to go a long way.”
Huddersfield-born club academy product Smithies, who made his 73rd Town appearance against Norwich on Saturday, said: “I’m delighted to win this award.
“It’s great to get this kind of recognition, but I’d like to thank (goalkeeping coach) John Vaughan and all the management staff here as well as my parents, because they have played a massive role in my development.”
The former Colne Valley High School pupil and Westend junior player added: “I’ve been with the club since I was nine, and it was a dream come true to progress though the age levels and make my first-team debut.
“Now I want to keep my place in the team and play my part in helping this club get to where they should be.”
Developing young players is central to the Football League’s philosophy, with £40m invested annually by clubs.
Around £12.6m is provided by the Football Association and the Premier League, and with 8,700 players registered, the Football League’s youth development programme is the largest of its kind in the world.
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