As the English football calendar draws to a close for another season on the pitch, the nerve-wracking time of year off it for players up and down the country only just begins.
Players, young and old, out of contract or deemed surplus to requirements after another season of hard graft wait anxiously as their futures are decided, with many facing the prospect of being left club-less and searching for pastures new.
This will be the case for a high number of Watford’s young hopefuls, with the club, The Football Pyramid understands, releasing eight of this year’s under-21 squad.
Jorell Johnson and George Byers, who have both shared the captain’s armband this season, are among those who will be released.
Defenders Alfie Young, Josh Doherty and Matt Hall will leave, as will winger Mahlondo Martin, while Bernard Mensah’s 10-year association with the Hornets’ will also come to an end.
Goalkeeper Luke Simpson, who arrived on a short-term deal in December, will also be released.
Alex Jakubiak, who notched 22 goals this season, Ola Adayemo, Dennon Lewis and Carl Stewart are the only survivors – each with time left on their current deals – as the majority of Harry Kewell’s U21s are told they have no future at Vicarage Road.
It has been a season of struggle for the Hornet’s development squad this season – the first year of boasting the set-up – winning just five of 31 games, a likely reason behind the high number of players released.
Letting this amount leave suggests first team arrivals won’t be the only recruits at Vicarage Road this summer, while also hinting the club have faith in the Under-18s to step up, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a number of professional deals handed out.
The next step for those handed pro contracts will be forcing their way into first team plans at Vicarage Road, while for the unfortunate eight, a difficult journey to find new clubs begins.