Sometimes, it seems that no matter how hard you try, and no matter how good the results are, you still end up not getting the praise that you deserve. That may well be how winger Anthony Jeffrey is feeling after he delivered another superb performance in the FA Youth Cup this week despite his future at the club beyond this season being far from assured.
Jeffrey has always had an edge about him. He made his debut for the U18s as a schoolboy against Charlton Athletic in December 2010, and immediately caught the eye with his pace, an asset which made him the third fastest boy his age in the country at that time. He continued that good form into his scholarship, scoring some noteworthy goals in the Academy League last season, whilst also starting regularly at that level this campaign.
He has, however, not yet been provided with a sustained opportunity to shine at U21 level, featuring just once for Terry Burton’s side this campaign, whilst in the NextGen Series most of his chances to shine have come from the bench. Jeffrey’s attitude certainly cannot be questioned and, with his determination another commendable asset, the club’s apparent reluctance to offer him a professional contract seems somewhat bewildering.
Along with Hector Bellerin, Jeffrey tore apart the Newcastle United defence at Underhill in the 3rd round of the Youth Cup, before repeating the trick against Fulham on Tuesday night with another well-taken goal. It is true that he hasn’t found the net in the league for the U18s this season in nine starts, but the Hale End product has certainly contributed in different ways, providing his fair share of assists and improving his passing range.
It may well transpire that the club will offer Jeffrey a professional deal in June, but, even then, it is only likely to be a one-year contract, and this seems to be a strange way of treating a player whose performances, on the whole, have been impressive since making the step-up to youth level. It is true that some of Jeffrey’s crosses, particularly when he is operating on the right flank, tend to go astray, but he makes up for that with his ability to beat defenders and his improving ball control.
The likes of Roarie Deacon and Jeffrey Monakana, also searing quick wingers, have also been treated harshly by the club in recent years and, at present, it seems as if that is the path that Jeffrey is heading down.