Bristol City wing-back Joe Bryan has been named The Football League Young Player of the Month for February.The award covers players from all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.
In a month that saw League 1 leaders Bristol City contest eight league games, 21-year-old Bryan played a key role on the left flank, helping the Robins to four wins and a draw in the six games in which he featured.
A young Bristolian that has risen though the Academy ranks to become a firm fixture in Steve Cotterill’s first XI this season, Bryan has started 31 of his 33 League 1 appearances this term keeping out other more experienced players along the way.
Energy-filled displays have become Bryan’s trademark with the youngster proving capable in both defence and attack. Part of a rearguard that kept four clean sheets in the month, including an impressive shut-out at promotion rivals Milton Keynes Dons, at the other end of the pitch Bryan scored in the 3-1 win over Port Vale. Emerging as a potent attacking threat from out wide, Bryan has set up 10 goals for his team-mates this season and currently sits third in the list of League 1 assist providers.
Commenting on the award, Bryan said: “It’s nice to get the recognition, even though I don’t play to win individual awards.
“Whenever I play I want to do as well as I can because it’s for my hometown club. It makes me feel proud because for a long while there’s not been many players coming through the academy to the first team but that’s changing.
“At the back of last season the manager challenged me to show him I was good enough and I took that challenge. I still don’t feel like I’ve made it. I’ll say I’ve made it when I’ve retired and played 500-odd games.”
BBC Sport: 'One of a kind' Bryan wins award
Presenting the award to Bryan, Bristol City’s Manager Steve Cotterill added: “He’s a quality young man and a quality young footballer. He’s a very intelligent boy who takes things on board quickly.
“He’s come on a lot this year, and although he’s still got a lot to do, we’re pleased with his progress. The game time Joe has had has meant he has learnt throughout those games.
“When he signed his new contract in the summer he said he it was going to be a big year for him. He went away, he worked hard over the summer, came back and grabbed it by the scruff of the neck. He’s won his place through hard work and dedication. We’re delighted for him.”
Each season, Football League clubs invest more than £60m on identifying, training and educating the next generation of football talent.
There are 8,500 young players between the ages of 8 and 18 registered with League clubs, making Football League Youth Development the largest centrally co-ordinated young player programme in world football. Over 200 players aged 21 or under make their professional debuts for Football League clubs each season.
Commenting on this month’s recipient, David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: “Joe Bryan has had a fantastic season with a strong Bristol City side and has really kicked on to cement his place in Steve Cotterill’s team.
“A standard bearer for Bristol City’s youth set-up, Joe’s progress from Academy graduate to key first-team member will serve as an inspiration to many of the aspiring young footballers coming through the club’s ranks.”
Each month the accolade is awarded by The Football League to the young player who has made the most significant contribution and impact in first team football. To be eligible the player must be either under 21 years of age or be playing in the season during which he turns 21. Currently around a quarter of all players registered with Football League clubs are eligible to be considered for this award.