It’s not always easy getting game time when you’re a first year in the youth team, but Somtee Chukwugbo has, and with the team entering a promising second half of the campaign, he’s only interested in getting better as a player and aiding the team.
Operating as a centre-forward, he’s had to play in a few different systems this season, but always seeks to adapt and change to what’s asked of him, helping the team where he can.
“At the start of the season we played 4-3-3 and I would play centrally or on the left.
“Then we changed the system to a 3-5-2 and now we play with two strikers.
“I feel like that system has helped the team improve a lot and get the results we need.
“Playing with two up top has really helped me get better and bring out another aspect of my game.
“When you play with two strikers, your movement is very important, it’s vital that both of you link together well.
“If you can’t do that, then scoring goals will be difficult.
“Now, we're winning more regularly and we’re used to that and the system.”
After bagging in Athletic’s last match, a 2-0 win over Carlisle United just before the Christmas break, Somtee is satisfied with how he’s performed in the opening months of the campaign, but really wants to kick on moving forward.
“I’m happy with how I’m doing right now.
“But I feel there’s still more to come, I think I can still improve.
“Scoring more goals and creating more chances is something I want to do.
“I think I’m getting better in training every week, the experience is great.
“I’m putting in the hard miles and taking advice from Chuks.
“Being able to take advice from someone like him has been amazing.
“He’s an experienced coach and great to work with, as are everyone else on the team.
“They’ve played a pivotal part in my development.
“I now understand a lot more about the game, and that’s helped me enhance my skills as a striker.”
Despite some disappointing results and closely-fought matches at the beginning of the season, three wins from their last four have seen Latics move up to 11th in the EFL Youth Alliance table.
With just under half the season completed, there are still plenty of points to be picked up, leaving Somtee optimistic of Latics’ chances.
“Recently we’ve seen that we can easily compete with other teams in our league.
“We’ve now shown that we can win games, because we know we’re a good team.
“I think in the opening matches of the season, we played some good stuff but we’re linking together as a team like we are now.
“Now we’re more connected as a team, and that benefits the squad, but also us as individuals.
“We’re more confident coming into games now which is a good sign.
“We’ve shown teams our ability, and now we’re getting the results.
“As a team we want to finish as high as possible in the table.
“Personally I want to score more goals and be a bigger attacking threat.
“Just allowing my abilities to develop is what I really want.
“These two years are the most important of my career in terms of developing as a player.
“I want to play as high as possible, and I’m going to put in as much work as possible to make that happen."