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Club News


26 September 2023

Club News


26 September 2023

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Rotherham United Academy Manager Richard Hairyes believes first team exposure and opportunities for the club’s youngsters has been hugely beneficial for their development.

Academy graduates such as Ciaran McGuckin, Hamish Douglas, Josh Ayres and Nathaniel Ford amongst others have all been in the first team fold of late, with McGuckin earning himself Sky Bet Championship minutes in the earlier stages of the campaign.

It has certainly aided the trajectory of Josh Ayres in Hairyes eyes, with the striker impressing during his time up at Roundwood, earning himself an early professional contract.

And with the opportunities there, Hairyes believes it is only going to further enhance the Academy operation.  

Sunderland v RUFC - 102 - Ciaran McGuckin.jpg

Academy graduate Ciaran McGuckin has made five appearances in all competitions this term. 

"The nine substitutions rule has really helped players like Josh and certainly us as an Academy,” Hairyes told

“It's something that historically we haven't been able to do but now when you have a young player that you think might be 'near' in terms of their ability, there is that opportunity. The first team have been great for handing those chances out to lads who have earned them.

"It has benefited Josh massively. He's probably had opportunities a little earlier than he might normally have done thanks to the nine-sub rule but he's gone up to Roundwood, shown what he is about and fingers crossed now he can keep pushing on."

Richard Hairyes, Academy Manager

"He's loved being immersed in the first team environment and I think if he could he'd be there every day. He's a realistic kid that just wants to play football and improve his game.

“He's really appreciated how much he's been made to feel welcome by the first team staff and that will have done his confidence the world of good.

“We’ve had a lot of lads come through and be given opportunities within the first team environment.

“We know it’s a really difficult step-up, but for them to be getting the chances they are is fantastic. We’ve got lads within the setup now that we think have a genuine chance.”  

Josh Ayres 1.jpg

Striker Josh Ayres was rewarded with his first professional contract recently, after impressing at Roundwood. 


With three players from the Under 18s setup handed professional contracts for the second successive campaign and one already quickly tied down this season, it is certainly a bumper time for the Academy.

The likes of Ben Wiles and Jerry Yates – both rising through the Rotherham United ranks – completed money moves to Sky Bet Championship clubs to the benefit of the Millers, with Academy prospects also attracting interest from Premier League sides.

“I’m, of course, not knocking what went on before, but this is my sixth season here and during my time I’ve noticed a marked improvement right across the board.

“We’re producing players, we’ve currently got what we’re hoping will be a bit of a production line coming through and we’re looking forward to seeing them progress.

“As well as Ben Wiles and Jerry Yates, we’ve sold a couple of lads in the Academy this year to two Premier League clubs, for the right reasons for the football club.

“Selling players isn’t something we are necessarily looking to do, but in this instance it has helped us put the money back into the Academy and we need to do that as we move forward.

“There are clubs who want to buy our players, which shows the calibre of what is currently coming through.

“We’re fielding calls weekly on a variety of different players, which again shows where we’re going.

“We’ve always had good staff here and this period is now different, they work long hours and are passionate about the football club. Standards have improved right across the board.”

Richard Hairyes, Academy Manager

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