Despite the young Latics’ winning streak of five coming to an end on Saturday, second-year scholar, Jesse Williams is confident they can get back to winning ways this weekend.
Jesse is one of the longest-serving players in the squad, having linked up with Latics seven years ago, progressing through the ranks at Boundary Park.
Making the step up to the U19s at the start of last season, the youngster is pleased with his progress.
“I haven’t really been at any other clubs, I’ve only had trials at Everton and United, before Oldham offered me the chance to join them.
“That was at under 11s so I’ve been here for about seven years now.
“I think I’ve improved a lot physically and mentally during that time, but mainly technically.
“A few years ago I had a nine month injury which was really disappointing and frustrating.
“The time was not the best, as it was just before they picked the scholars, but thankfully I was given a chance and I’m now in my second year.
“Things are going well and I’m really pleased with my progress, my confidence has grown massively and I now trust my ability a lot more."
Williams has worked closely with U19s manager, Chukwuma Akuneto, since the latter’s arrival in the summer.
Jesse feels Chuks has had a big impact on the squad, but also on his personal development.
“All the coaches here have been really helpful and they’ve assisted me in raising my game.
“They’ve taught me a number of things, including how to play a long pass forward, what technique to use and how to get the best out of myself, that’s important as a defender.
“Chuks has really made us work hard on the training pitch and during games, he instills discipline but is also fair.
“He strikes the balance really well.
“Working with him, you know he’s interested in you as an individual, he just wants to make you better as a player for the benefit of the team.
“We even do things like analysis now, looking back at our games and learning from them, that gives us an advantage.
“The bond between the lads has also grown massively, which I think has helped the team."
Despite the winning run coming to an end on Saturday at the hands of Morecambe, the progress the team has made over the past few months has been fantastic, and has really thrusted Latics into the mix of teams in the EFL Youth Alliance.
“We started the season off quite slowly, and had quite a few losses.
“We were playing as individuals, not as a team.
“As things have progressed, we’ve started to work together and now the wins have come.
“The bond between the players increased, we started working hard and well as a team.
“That’s why we’ve improved a lot.
“Being a defender, keeping clean sheets is important to me, and it’s something I want more of between now and the end of the season.
“Maybe chip in with a few goals too, that would be good.
“We had five wins on the run, before losing that at the weekend, if we can do something like that again then we’ll be in a healthy league position.
“If we carry on, keep working hard, we’ll win more games between now and May."
On a personal note, Jesse’s one of a number of youth teammers who’ve been given the opportunity to train with the first team by manager Micky Mellon.
Such experiences are invaluable for players at key development milestones in their careers, and it’s something Jesse wants to make the most of.
“I’ve been involved with the first-team a few times now and it’s been really good, I’ve enjoyed it.
“You can definitely see the step up from youth to first team, if that wasn’t obvious already.
“The way they conduct themselves, how experienced they are, how intense it is, it’s all there.
“These experiences have improved me as a player.
“It’s been an opportunity for me to test myself against a much higher standard, and I’m really grateful to everyone within the youth and first teams for giving me that chance."
The youth team are next in action on Saturday 10 February, kick-off 10:30am, as they take on Stockport County at Carrington Training Centre.
Fans are welcome to attend, free of charge.