Exeter City forward Ollie Watkins has been named The Football League’s Young Player of the Month for March.The award covers players that play in all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.
Capable of playing out wide or through the middle, Watkins offers manager Paul Tisdale a varied attacking option and, with four goals in six games, the 19-year-old played a starring role for the Grecians as they went through March unbeaten to boost their Play-Off challenge in Sky Bet League 2.
Picking up three wins and three draws along the way, Watkins made a series of vital contributions during the month which began with a stunning last-minute equaliser at home to promotion-chasing Portsmouth.
Just four days later another Watkins strike was enough to claim all three points against Cambridge United with the young Devonian also going on to make the scoresheet in impressive away wins at Notts County and Crawley Town.
Born and raised locally, Watkins joined Exeter’s Academy at under-11 level and, following the completion of his apprenticeship, he was offered a professional contract to begin in the 2014/15 season having already made his debut in the previous campaign.
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On collecting The Football League’s Young Player of the Month Award for March, Watkins said: "I’ve come up through Exeter, I’ve been given a chance like some other young players and I’m very grateful of that.
"There's a lot of players I aspire to be like - players who like to make the crowd excited, forward-thinking, bring goals, assists - someone that you think 'that's an exciting player'."
Commenting on Watkins’ award, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale said: "Ollie's pretty new to it and he's shown a lot of good attributes other than his talent - he's working incredibly hard, he's defending for the team - those things are the attributes which get you in the team in the first place and will keep you there.
"He's doing particularly well but I’m not surprised - he's scoring goals and he's come into a team which is in good form."
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 eight and 18 registered with League clubs, making Football League Youth Development the largest centrally co-ordinated young player programme in world football. More than 200 players aged 21 or under make their professional debuts for Football League clubs each season.
Commenting on Watkins’ award, David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: "Ollie Watkins has had a fantastic month scoring crucial goals against some very tough opponents.
"He’s shown he is not fazed by League football and has the skills required to succeed. Hopefully he will continue to work hard and further his career at Exeter City where there is a strong track record of nurturing young talent."
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.