MARTIN GRAY has hailed the youth set-up at York City and the loan system following the glowing praise he has received for various players from outside the club.

Academy starlet Ryan Edmondson's move from Bootham Crescent to Leeds United this week is evidence of the good work at junior level, with Gray lauding the efforts of youth team coach Steve Torpey and his men.

Out-of-favour players Sam Muggleton and Connor Smith have also both earned praise from their loan clubs, with Gray declaring further interest coming in for the pair who appear to be surplus to requirements at the Minster city club.

Wishing the 16-year-old Edmondson well with his move to the Championship big guns, Gray said: “I think it benefits everybody, most importantly the player. You want to see kids playing at the highest level they can.

“I hope he comes through and becomes a top centre-forward at the top level of the game. He’s got a lot of work to do, but this is the opportunity that he wanted."

Previously released by Huddersfield, Edmondson, a first-year scholar at Bootham Crescent, was used during the second half of both of City’s opening two pre-season friendlies. He also led the line for the reserves last term while still a schoolboy.

The likes of Newcastle and Middlesbrough were understood to be monitoring his progress.

He made his first-team debut for City as a substitute against Brackley in National League North last month - becoming the third youngest player in the club's history, aged 16 years and 140 days.

“I’d like to think that the person that identified him within the club should be getting recognised, whether it was a scout or it came from Huddersfield," said Gray.

“Since he’s come into the environment, I think Steve Torpey deserves massive credit. I’ve watched him work daily, and the long hard hours he puts in with the kids is fantastic.

“It benefits everybody when a deal comes off like this.”

Gray himself attended a youth training session last week, and reported very positively on the experience.

"With any successful football club, you need a strong youth structure behind it," he explained. "Look at the likes of the Middlesbroughs and the Man Uniteds and the amount of players they’ve churned through the system that have made a living in the game. If we can develop them through our system, which we are doing, then things are getting done right there.

“Last Friday night, I came back down and worked with the under-15s and 16s for a couple of hours on coach development with the staff.

“I wanted to see what was coming through in the next group, and I drove away really, really pleased with what I saw.”

Gray also gave a glowing report on his loanees and the loan system, saying it benefits players and the club alike.

He said: “Sam Muggleton’s gone to Boston – he’s playing every game and we’re getting lots of interest from various clubs because he’s put himself in the window.

“The purpose of some of the players going out was to get game time but also to give them a chance to get their match fitness up to the right standards.

“Playing in the reserves as a senior pro is alright for one or two games, but playing competitive football on a Saturday afternoon at quarter to five, you feel like you’ve earned your money.

“It gives me a good problem – do I bring Sam back in or just leave him out for another month?

“And also that feel-good factor – with Connor Smith at Whitby, the feedback I’ve had has been very good, the same as Sam’s has been very good.

“It’s the reason that other clubs have shown interest these last few days. I’ve had three clubs in for Sam Muggleton these last three or four days, so we’ll sit down at the weekend and have that conversation.

“I think the level of players that we’ve got in the system is good, the level of players coming through is very good as well.”