Gary Griffith III

TALENTED AND DETERMINED: Trinidad and Tobago youth players Gary Griffith III, left, and Jesse Williams flank Coleraine FC striker James McLaughlin, who wears the Irish club’s #9 shirt.

Trinidad and Tobago youth footballers Jesse Williams and Gary Griffith III have not signed professional contracts with Northern Irish Club Coleraine FC, but may be installed in the academy team of the 2019-2020 Danske Bank Premiership runners-up, which offers a progression path to the first team.

Both national Under-20 players were recently on trial at League Cup winners Coleraine. Belfast Telegraph/Sunday Life reporter Michael Anderson confirmed that the T&T footballers remained uncontracted.

“Gary Griffith III and Jesse Williams have not yet sealed their move to the Showgrounds despite speculation on social media,” Anderson wrote, “The Trinidad and Tobago duo featured in a recent friendly with Loughgall.”

The players were recommended to first team manager Oran Kearney, who said at the time the club would monitor their progress. There is said to be some interest by the club in the players who, if eventually signed, would need both international clearance and Home Office clearance for the process to be completed.

Neither player have a senior international cap for Trinidad and Tobago, usually a requirement to get British Home Office clearance. Neither player was named when Coleraine announced its 2020-2021 senior squad, and they also were not mentioned among the official off-season recruits.

“Our summer recruits have taken the following numbers in brackets; Gareth Deane (1), Ronan Wilson (12), Evan Tweed (14) and Howard Beverland (22). Curtis Allen – who wore the number 35 jersey after signing in January – will now wear number 19, with Stewart Nixon taking number 21. Goalkeeper Martin Gallagher will now wear number 20.

Coleraine is one of several Irish football clubs going through severe financial difficulties brought on by Covid-19 restrictions. Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry says his primary focus remains on club survival.

“We need financial support quickly and the NI Football League, made representations to Stormont earlier this week,” McKendry said. “If we don’t secure additional funding, then I am not sure what will happen.”

The financial impact has seen Coleraine recently announce the restructuring of its youth programme to provide a clear pathway from the club’s junior ranks to Oran Kearney’s senior team.

“This is an exciting time for the youth footballers at Coleraine FC and the restructuring will ensure a clear identifiable pathway for progression at the club,” McKendry said.

In August, former Aston Villa and England international David Platt was appointed as the new Junior Academy Director at the club in charge of the Soccer School, seven and nine-a-side teams, and teams up to Under-15. Ollie Mullan is the Senior Academy Director in charge of U-16, 18 and 20 youth teams.

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Trinidad and Tobago youth footballers Jesse Williams and Gary Griffith III have not signed professional contracts with Northern Irish Club Coleraine FC, but may be installed in the academy team of the 2019-2020 Danske Bank Premiership runners-up, which offers a progression path to the first team.