Kian Spence keen to progress with Boro
It is a case of taking one step back to take a huge leap forward for top prospect Kian Spence after he committed to Scarborough Athletic for the 2019-20 campaign.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who is just confirming the finishing touches on a deal with Boro, elected to leave the Under-23 set-up at Championship club Middlesbrough at the end of last season and for the first time he found himself in the football wilderness.
But, having spent time at a handful of clubs further up the rungs of the non-league pyramid, Spence has now settled at the Flamingo Land Stadium, where he is relishing the new season.
Spence made four appearances for the youth team in the 2016-17 season at Middlesbrough, but it was the following season, his first as a scholar, that he really began to make his mark, making 20 appearances including eight starts for the Under-23s, as well as training regularly with the first team.
A further 24 games added to his experience in the 2018-19 season, 13 with the Under-23s and three in the EFL Trophy against Walsall, Port Vale and Burton.
After all this, it may be a large drop for the midfielder, who was offered a new deal by the Teesside club, but the pull of the attractive football that boss John Deacey plays and the thrill of playing in front of packed crowds certainly made the decision easier.
"It was a hard decision to leave Middlesbrough, especially as I had no other clubs lined up, but I just wanted to play mens football to push me on," he said.
"I spent a bit of time with a few other clubs from the divisions above Scarborough, but I've just really enjoyed being here.
"I knew I'd have to drop into the non-league game to play week in week out, but at Scarborough John plays proper football and it will be very different from the Under-23s.
"The lads are all great, they have really welcomed me in and there are some very good players in there as well.
"I like the way they play, the surface is good at the Flamingo Land Stadium and the fanbase for this level of football is amazing.
"All you have to do is look at the attendances they get, that just tells you how big the club is.
"I'm a very ambitious person and I do want to play at the highest level that I can, hopefully I can play my part in helping Scarborough progress as well."
Spence is now looking forward to what should be an intriguing and spicy pre-season clash at York City on Saturday.
He added: "I was with York as an Under-11 and Under-12 before I went to Middlesbrough, so that will make it interesting.
"The Bridlington Town friendly was our first big game of pre-season on Tuesday and we came through that well. The game again York will now be a real test of where we are."