BILLERICAY Town are set to boast under-18 and under-23 sides next season as they look to keep the club’s exciting young talent at New Lodge.

While Billericay have numerous colts sides containing some of the county’s best up-and-coming stars, the National League South club’s new owners have recognised that there is not a pathway for the youngsters to break into the first team.

And, as a result, Nick Hutt - who is now a co-owner alongside David McCartney, Alex Morrissey and Greg Lake - insists strides have been made to make sure talented teenagers do not slip through Billericay’s fingers.

“Greg, Dave, Alex and I have a shared vision to unite all three sections of the club - the men, ladies, girls and colts,” said Hutt.

“We fundamentally believe that by doing so we will create the football club that the local community deserve.

“Glenn (Tamplin, former owner) was fantastic for the football club and we are extremely grateful for everything he did but there wasn’t a pathway for the colts and this was a frustration.

“In my honest opinion, we have the best youth set-up in Essex but we were starting to see top talent leave the club aged 15-18 due to the lack of a pathway into the first team.

“Next season we will run an under-18 and under-23s side fully under the club’s umbrella.

“We understand that the jump from that age group to the first team is significant but over the last 10 years the colts have produced more than 50 players that are now with professional club academies, so we welcome the challenge.”

Billericay are preparing for a trip to League Two table-toppers Forest Green Rovers for an FA Cup first round tie this weekend.

Town have never booked their place in the second round of the competition and Hutt is hoping it will prove to be third time lucky.

“I think it’s important to formally acknowledge that Jamie O’Hara, Gifton Noel-Williams and the playing staff have been fantastic over the past few weeks and that supporting them is our top priority,” added Hutt.

“It would be fantastic for the local community to get behind the club for this Saturday’s massive FA Cup fixture against Forest Green Rovers in the first round of the competition.

“Let’s hope it will be third time lucky.”

However, Billericay boss Jamie O’Hara will be unable to call upon midfielder Jordan Parkes for the FA Cup clash.

Parkes, who joined from Hemel Hempstead Town during the summer, has left the club after being unable to commit to the new training arrangements.

“Good luck to everyone at Billericay Town for the rest of the season,” tweeted Parkes.

“It’s a great club and I’ve really enjoyed the last few months.

“Unfortunately, with the change of training venue and needing time for my business, I couldn’t commit to the new schedule.”