LITTLE Oakley manager Matt Carmichael believes the club's new Acorns Academy is a "huge deal" for the community and non-league football across north Essex.

The project is being run in partnership with AFC Sudbury's highly-successful and established Academy.

A dozen places have already been offered to budding young players which means there are four more up for grabs.

The next trial night will take place at the Memorial Ground on Tuesday (March 26), from 7pm.

"It's a huge deal, for us as a club, for our community and for non-league in general," said Carmichael.

"Sudbury approached us and that speaks volumes, because they've obviously done their research and can see we're a club that can carry their brand.

"Their model is the best around and hopefully we can replicate what they're doing.

"It's a great opportunity for youngsters and all local sides will benefit, not just ourselves, because there will be a large contingency of players coming through the system.

"I can only have so many in my first team here and so, in time, it will make everyone stronger. It can only be a positive thing."

To register an interest and secure a place at next week's information/trial evening, to be staged on the first-team pitch, complete the online form on the Oakley website.

Alternatively, for more information, contact Acorns chairman Michael Good on 07584 254957.

"If someone had offered me something like this when I was that age it would have been a no-brainer," added Carmichael.

"It can lead to so many things, within football but also many other careers.

"These are exciting times and, from our perspective, we're an ambitious club that wants to progress.

"(Chairman) Michael (Good) is a very driven man and, as far as I can see, there's no way this project won't be a success."

Meanwhile, Oakley's first team - without a match last weekend - return to Thurlow Nunn League first division south action at Fire United on Saturday.

They only have six games left this season.

The players trained last weekend and Carmichael is hoping new signing Billy Latto can make a big impact in the closing weeks of the campaign, to stake a claim for the 2019/20 season.

The right-back recently joined from Wivenhoe Town.

"We trained last weekend and are looking forward to our match on Saturday," said Carmichael.

"Hopefully we'll be at full strength and we're looking forward to seeing Billy play.

"He's comfortable on the ball, has a good attitude and is young, so fits into the club's way of thinking.

"We haven't got many over the age of 24 or 25. I think there are only three or four in a squad of 16.

"So he fits the bill and hopefully he'll finish the season strongly and make a claim for next season.

"He's got every opportunity and wants to learn and progress."