Plymouth Argyle have confirmed that teenage prospect Jarvis Cleal is currently on a period of leave for personal reasons.
Director of football Neil Dewsnip has said the club are looking forward to his return ‘when the time is right’.
Cleal made his debut for the Pilgrims, when still an apprentice, as a late substitute in the 3-0 League Two win against Macclesfield Town at Home Park on March 7.
That turned out to be Argyle’s last match of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent football shutdown.
Cleal signed his first professional contract in the summer but he has not been with the first team squad this season.
Argyle explained the situation in a statement issued on the official club website on Thursday afternoon, following an approach to them from Plymouth Live.
Staff at the club, alongside specialist agencies like the Professional Footballers’ Association, are continuing to provide their full support for Cleal.
In the statement, Cleal said: “I have needed some time away for my mental health.
“Saying it has been tough is an understatement, but I am working hard, with help and ongoing support from the club, to get myself back on track and stronger than ever.”
Cleal signed as an apprentice for Argyle in October 2018 after previously being with West Bromwich Albion.
Argyle manager Ryan Lowe said: “Jarvis is a talented individual with a good attitude and desire to do well, and we look forward to him returning to the group when he is ready.
“The players and coaching staff at Argyle are fully behind him, and we will continue to provide support in any way we can.”
Dewsnip added: “Jarvis knows that he has our full support in what is a challenging time for him.
“He is a tremendously talented young man, and his well being is paramount – we will continue to support him, both professionally and pastorally, and look forward to his return when the time is right.”
The statement ended by calling on the Green Army to give their support to Cleal.
It said: “The club has noted queries from supporters throughout the season and we are sure that the Green Army will join everyone at Home Park in supporting Jarvis through this challenging time.
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“The club will make no further comment and we ask that Jarvis’ right to privacy is respected.”