Dereham Town youngster Ryan Hawkins handed Leyton Orient trial
Hot prospect Ryan Hawkins is dreaming of a shot at the big time after his impressive performances for Dereham Town Under-18s landed him a trial at Leyton Orient.
Talented midfielder Hawkins, a former Norwich City Academy player, enjoyed a trial with the O's last week after catching the eye of the League One club's scouts during Dereham's 4-3 FA Youth Cup defeat to Orient in November.
The 17-year-old, who scored a wonder free-kick during his side's defeat at Brisbane Road, has now been asked to return to train with Orient as a result of his initial trial.
First team manager Matt Henman said: 'Ryan's been with us for a few years after being released by Norwich and everybody at the club is wishing him well.
'If any of our young players get opportunities to land a professional contract we would never stand in their way. It puts our club and youth development in a really positive light which will help us to continue to attract the best young players. Some are already not too far away from being involved in the first team here and many have had a taste.
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'Playing in the FA Youth Cup is to the benefit of the boys, it can bear the fruits of their hard work. It gives them a chance to put themselves in the shop window for clubs like Leyton Orient to spot them.
'If we hadn't have entered the competition, Ryan wouldn't have been seen as Norfolk is a bit limited for opportunities. With Norwich doing so well, there's a few young footballers that fall just below the level they're after. We're trying to do the best by our lads that we can.'
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Hawkins' under-18s team-mate Nathan Howard has played a few games for Norwich City's youth team this season as Dereham's youth set-up continues to flourish.
Two players from the under-16s have recently trained at Leicester City, while a host of the club's youngsters, including Sam Borrer, have either played for or become regulars in Henman's first team squad.
'Tom Parke is an excellent coach for our under-18s but all of our youth-team coaches do an excellent job,' said Henman.
'Every player in the under-18s has got a chance of playing in the Ridgeons Premier Division or higher and we've got a young reserves side. As a club we aim to give players opportunities outside of Norfolk. In London if you don't make it at say Chelsea or Tottenham there's still lots of other clubs. Here, we've got Norwich, or nothing.
'We're hoping that the youth development will drive us forward. We can add to our talent already which will help carry us forward, rather than having to double our budget.
'Youth systems take a lot of hard work from people who are often volunteers but I really see the value in it. In two or three years it will bear even more fruit.'