Carlisle’s Wells in race to win new deal
Nahki Wells has six weeks to convince Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott he is worthy of a new contract.
That's the frank assessment of ex-Bradford City winger Mark Ellis, a close friend of Abbott, who first alerted United to Wells' potential after working with him at the International Academic and Soccer Academy (IASA).
Ellis, the IASA football director, maintains faith in the 19-year-old's ability and is confident in time he will make his mark in the English game.
But he admits the sand in Wells' egg-timer is running out and with the striker having made just four substitute appearances this season he rates his chances of winning a new deal at no greater than “fifty fifty”.
“The feedback I'm getting from the manager is one day Nahki looks unbelievable and the next day he looks a millions miles away,” Ellis said.
“He's got a big six weeks coming up to try and win a new contract for next season. I've spoken to Nahki and told him he needs to force the issue a little bit more. I think his chances are like fifty fifty.”
Wells is bidding to become the third Bermuda player to appear at Wembley, by taking part in this weekend's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final against Brentford. Compatriots Shaun Goater and Kyle Lightbourne appeared at Wembley for Manchester City and Stoke, and Ellis hopes Wells will follow in their footsteps.
“I was a bit concerned because Nahki was left out of Carlisle's squad (against Yeovil on Tuesday night).
“I've spoken to Greg (Abbott) who said Nahki will definitely be in Carlisle's 18-man squad for the final but two players will miss out as they're only allowed five substitutes.
“I'll be travelling down to Wembley with all of the IASA students and hopefully Nahki will play some part.”
Ellis believes it would be an oversight by Carlisle not to offer Wells another deal and said he already had other English clubs lined up should the ex-Dandy Town player be released.
“Carlisle have to be careful because if they release him and he goes and does well for someone else ... I've already talked to a couple of clubs to make them aware of Nahki. If they take a chance on him it could look bad for Carlisle, so they have to make sure they make the right decision.”
Another Bermuda player Ellis is monitoring closely is goalkeeper Tahj Bell who joined the IASA at the same time as Wells last August. Ellis said the Somerset Eagles shot stopper was making good progress and had been working with Bradford keeper coach Tim Dittmer.
“We have the goalkeeper coach from Bradford working with Tahj at the moment. The feedback from Tim (Dittmer) is that Tahj needs to work harder in training but he believes he has loads of potential,” said Ellis.
“Dai Jones, who works with the England Under-21 set up, is also trying to push him along. We feel if we can get him into a club he will go forward. He knows he has a lot of hard work to do but he has all the attributes and is only 19.”
The IASA course, which is in its first year, allows overseas students to pursue an American degree while developing their football skills with top level coaching and against quality professional youth academies and reserve teams.
And Ellis hopes the programme can provide a permanent path into English football for Bermuda's aspiring young players.
“I think we've got a few Bermudians coming over in the summer who we will be taking a look at,” he said.