The New Saints' Ryan Pryce hopes V9 call-up will help launch Football League career
Talented full-back Ryan Pryce is hoping success in Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy will keep him from a career on the roofs of Shropshire.
The 20-year-old TNS star is the latest to be snapped up by England international and non-league graduate Vardy’s academy. He will head to Manchester City’s Etihad training campus at the beginning of June to try to impress scouts and win a deal.
Pryce, from Shawbirch in Telford, has been professional at Welsh champions TNS for two years but is expected to leave in the summer.
The target is an English Football League contract, or any pro deal. Though, for the former Shrewsbury Town youngster, the alternative is a harsh reality.
“My dad, Gary, has got his own business,” said Pryce. “He always says that if it doesn’t work out I can go and work with him.
“He’s a roofer. I go with him sometimes but the days are long. I start at seven and get back at like five.
“You just don’t appreciate how easy football is. In the freezing cold on the roofs, I don’t want to do that.” A place in Vardy’s ranks, which were launched last year, is the latest in a line of high-profile interest in the attack-minded right-back, who has already made 46 appearances for the Saints, despite being on the periphery this season.
He was given his debut under former Saints chief Craig Harrisonbut has had his share of setbacks since. Pryce came close to a two-year-deal with then-Premier League Middlesbrough last March, but just missed out.
Shortly afterwards he picked up a niggling shin injury which has curtailed his involvement. There was also interest from Sunderland and Derby.
Other Football League clubs are now sniffing, and the former Charlton School student – who has been on loan at Cefn Druids this season – has a couple of Football League trials lined up. But he sees the V9 as a big chance. “It’s very good of him (Vardy),” added Pryce. “It proves that there are some good players in non-league that haven’t otherwise had chance to prove it.
“I’ve been up to Boro which is a marker now. I know where I’m at. If I do what I can do then I’ll be all rright.
“We played against the V9 with TNS last year. I think we beat them 3-2 but they gave us a good game. It’s one game to prove yourself and hope you do well.
“My dad just told me to go and be myself, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do usually.”
Shrewsbury-born Pryce tasted footballing disappointment at an early age.
After five years at Shrewsbury he was released aged 15. The disappointment, at that age, was palpable.
But, after a two-year scholarship at TNS, he was starting against APOEL in the Champions League aged 18.
He added: “I was gutted. I went to Telford for a bit and then TNS said they’d give me a scholarship. It was hard because I was young. You’ve just got to keep going.
Five of last season’s V9 crop made it pro. Four in England and one in Scotland. Pryce has a number of suitors – but any football destination will beat those cold roofs.