Leicester City snap up talented Doncaster Rovers Belles youngster Abi Coley

Doncaster Rovers Belles starlet Abi Coley has been tipped for a bright future after signing for WSL side Leicester City.
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Attacking midfielder Coley made her senior debut in February, just weeks after turning 16, and set up two goals in a 3-0 win over Lincoln City.

The youngster, from Lincolnshire, is a graduate of Belles’ academy, referred to as the club’s Regional Talent Centre (RTC), which has produced several current first-team players.

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"She will go a long way in the game,” said Belles boss Nick Buxton, whose side finished second in the Women’s National League Division One Midlands this term.

“She’s down to earth and it will do her the world of good. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, she wants to learn and wants to work, and she’s got a great work ethic.

"It will be great for her.”

It is understood Abi will initially join Leicester’s academy, having also attracted interest from other clubs higher up the pyramid.

The Foxes’ first team play in the top flight of women’s football, three leagues above Belles.

Belles ace Abi Coley (centre) pictured with the club's CEO Russ Green (left) and manager Nick Buxton.Belles ace Abi Coley (centre) pictured with the club's CEO Russ Green (left) and manager Nick Buxton.
Belles ace Abi Coley (centre) pictured with the club's CEO Russ Green (left) and manager Nick Buxton.
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Buxton said: “She had only been training with us for probably a couple of weeks before she made her debut, they’re not allowed to train with us until they are 16.

"To be fair for a 16-year-old she was holding her place in the team and keeping people out of it.”

Other first-team players at Belles to have progressed through the club’s RTC include Izzy Trevillion, Georgia Wattam and Holly Housley.

Several of their teammates also played from the club’s Development Squad, which provides a bridge from the RTC to the first team for players aged 16 to 18.

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But it is set to be scrapped two years after it was reestablished as it is no longer considered financially viable.

A lack of numbers has also affected the quality of some training sessions.

Instead, the resources could be poured into Belles first team to help them keep pace in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The RTC has also made way for an Emerging Talent Centre, which the Football Association (FA) hopes will create playing and development opportunities for more young girls.