Bristol Rovers defender Tom Lockyer, 21, has been named The Football League’s Young Player of the Month for December.The award covers players that play in all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.
A mainstay of Bristol Rovers’ rearguard this season, Lockyer was in impressive form through December as the Pirates picked up three wins and two draws, ending 2015 at the top of the League 2 form table.
Deployed at the heart of both a three and four man defence during the month, Lockyer helped Darrell Clarke’s men to three clean sheets in five games with only two goals conceded.
Capable of operating in midfield and across the defence, Lockyer’s versatility has helped him make over 125 first team appearances despite only turning 21 in December.
A Bristol Rovers Academy graduate, Lockyer made his debut as a 17-year-old in January 2012. In the 2014/15 season, he made 49 appearances as Rovers won promotion back to The Football League at their first attempt.
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Born and raised in Cardiff, an October call up to the Wales under-21 squad marked a fine year for Lockyer on the pitch. The young Welshman made his international debut in European Under-21 Championship Qualifying match versus Denmark and now has three caps to his name.
On collecting The Football League’s Young Player of the Month Award for December. Lockyer said: "I’m quite surprised but I’m delighted to have won it. I’m honoured. I like to try and be consistent every game and maintain a high level.
“I’m committed 100% in every game. When I was younger my old man said to me ‘I don’t care if you have a bad game with the ball, what I can’t accept is you not trying’.
"He said that to me when I was seven and he’s never had to have a go at me because of effort.”
Commenting on Lockyer’s award, Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke said: “He epitomises everything I want in a player. He’s a born winner, you can see that in how he trains and how he conducts himself.
“He can go as far as he wants to go for me. He’s the last one off the training ground and always wants to be out there doing more. I’m really pleased for that lad. He has come through the system as a few of the players have. He’s growing and he will grow with us."
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 Lockyer’s award, David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: “With over 125 senior appearances to his name at just 21 years of age, Tom has already experienced football’s highs and lows which will stand him in great stead for the rest of his career.
“Tom has performed to a consistently high level for Bristol Rovers in the first half of the season and has the markings of an excellent defender who with the right application could go far in the game.”
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.