SILSDEN AFC, who have re-signed midfielder Arley Barnes and given Dan Illingworth and Kyle Hancock new contracts, are forming an under-21 team.

The Cobbydalers have applied to join the Premier Division of the Flexible Football West Riding County FA Under-21 Floodlit League, which already contains high ranking non-league clubs such as Halifax Town, Harrogate Town and Tadcaster Albion.

Silsden see the move as a natural progression from their development team, which has been in place for the last few seasons.

However, as a result of this new venture, the development squad will be wound up.

Silsden believe that the under-21 team will now both bridge the gap and create a pathway from what is a thriving junior section to the senior set-up, with players hopefully progressing to the first team.

There will also be structured weekly training timetable and games that will link closely with the Cobbydalers' first-team squad.

No less than 11 players who have come through the junior system played for Silsden's first team during the 2016-17 season, which not only shows that the pathway is there for development but also backs up the club's philosophy of growing their own.

The under-21 team will be managed by Paul Evans, with assistance from Kev Whitaker and back up from Rob Marchini, Andy Consoli and Stephen Narey.

Ken Emmott will also be part of the pathway structure as the under-18 manager, but overseeing the whole project will be Silsden's first-team manager Danny Forrest.

The experienced Evans is a UEFA B qualified coach who has had two lengthy spells as an academy coach at Bradford City.

A former manager of Silsden's development team, Paul also manages a men's football team at the University of Bradford, as well as being an FA coach mentor.

Kev, who has been involved with the Cobbydalers for many years both as a player and coach, holds an FA Level Two qualification.

To help set up the under-21 squad, there will be a trial game for players aged 16 to 20 (by September 1, 2017) on Silsden's main pitch on Tuesday, July 4 (6.30pm).

To register, players should send their name, date of birth, contact number and preferred and secondary playing positions to or by text to 07732-316717.

Former Bradford Boys and Silsden under-19 player Barnes left the Cobbydalers at the end of the 2011-12 season to join neighbours Steeton before moving to the Keighley Road side's North West Counties League rivals Barnoldswick Town, where he was skipper.

Centre half Illingworth and winger Hancock both initially joined Silsden on loan – from Brighouse Town and Farsley respectively.