Stoke bolstered by two young AFC Wimbledon players

Eighteen-year-old defender Reuben Collins has been given an opportunity to gain first-team experience at Basingstoke Town.

Reuben, who signed his first pro deal here at the end of last season, has joined the BetVictor Southern League South Division club for an initial 28 days. Reuben’s promising 2018/19 season ended with him earning the Academy Player of the Year award and he featured for the first-team in the match against FC Kaiserslautern in the summer.

Reuben will be joined at Basingstoke by 17-year-old striker Zach Robinson. With Zach still in the second year of his scholarship, his 28 days with Basingstoke is designated as ‘work experience’. Zach has made a prolific start to the season in the Football League Youth Alliance for our Under-18s.

Reuben and Zach (left and right above) are pictured after an Under-18s game last season.

Mark Robinson, Lead Professional Phase Coach (U16 – U23s) & Loan Manager, believes that both players will really benefit from playing men’s football at this stage of their development.

“All young players need regular football and Reuben is no different,” said Mark. “He has lots of good attributes and things to work on. This loan I believe will be perfect for him. He will have to do what a good defender does off the ball, but he will be challenged on the ball with the way Basingstoke play. Plus, he will need to do it in an environment where winning is everything. Although Zach is younger, it’s clear that the challenge of playing Under-18s football could end up being too low for him. He has already scored seven goals in six games and it could easily be 10. We therefore need to raise the challenge point for him physically and mentally and monitor how he copes. Every player’s journey is different and it’s why development plans vary, but this is the right thing for Zach right now.”

Our former manager Terry Brown, who is now Chairman at Basingstoke Town, added: “We are very grateful to Wimbledon for letting us have two of the club’s young talents. We haven’t yet been able to move to our new ground so we are playing our home games at Winchester. It’s been a struggle as we have no revenue stream. We’ve got the youngest team we’ve ever had here though and a great manager in Martin Kuhl. It will be a good opportunity for Reuben and Zach to gain experience of men’s football and to try and help us move up the league.”