It’s good news week as far as Bristol Rovers are concerned, as another member of Darrell Clarke’s squad has agreed a new contract with the club.
Yesterday it was Lee Brown, today it’s the turn of central defender Tom Lockyer who, after recent negotiations, has today put pen to paper on a new deal.
Commenting on his latest piece of business Darrell said; “I am delighted that Tom has agreed to remain with Bristol Rovers.
“I can’t speak too highly of him, both as a player and as a young man. It’s hard to believe that he is still only 21 as he has a wealth of first team experience behind him and possesses all the qualities I like to see in a player. He has also been capped by his country at U-21 level this season and I fully expect him to go on to represent his Wales on many more occasions.
“I’m sure he can become an even better player than he is now. The fact that he feels he can do that with Bristol Rovers speaks volumes about his loyalty to the club.
“He is a leader which is why, in the absence of Mark McChrystal and Lee Mansell, I had no hesitation in making him skipper when we played Morecambe recently.
“Being rejected by Cardiff as a 16 year old only made him even determined to prove them wrong and to forge a career as a professional footballer. The way he has done that is testament to how hard he has worked since then and he is a shining example to all aspiring youngsters in our Academy.
“We have been talking to Tom about a new contract for a while and, once again, I would like to thank the club’s owners for being so supportive of our plans for the future. To have Tom and Lee Brown sign new contracts in the last couple of days has given everyone a boost as we enter the final weeks of the season.”
Speaking after he had signed his new deal, Tom said; “I’m very pleased to have signed a new contract.
“It’s something that has been on the cards since the new owners came in and I am glad to get it done before the end of the season.
“In all honesty, although there was a little bit of interest from one or two other clubs, I didn’t have any hesitation in signing for Rovers.
“I’ve been a regular in the side for three seasons now, and I feel that there are exciting times ahead.
“When I signed my first pro contract with the club I remember saying that my ambition was to get myself in a position where I would be the first name on the teamsheet and I’d like to think that I’m a lot closer to realising that ambition now
“The club is looking to the future and I definitely want to be a part of that future.”
The 21 year old defender added that Darrell Clarke has been talking to him about a new deal for some time.
“Darrell been massive influence on me and we have a very good working relationship. We have been speaking about me staying with the club for quite a long time and he is a manager I respect and who I want to work with going forward.”
Tom was released by Cardiff after spending time on their books as a schoolboy, and joined Rovers on a two year scholarship in the summer of 2011.
He was on the bench for the first team on a number of occasions in 2012/13, when still a second year scholar, and made his senior debut when going on as a late substitute in our 3-0 win at Fleetwood on 12th January 2013.
He ended the season with four substitute appearances to his name and signed his first professional contract in the summer of 2013.
Skipper of successful U-18 side of 2012/13, Tom made his first senior start for the club in the home game against Watford, in the Capital One Cup on 6th August 2013, and made his first league start against Scunthorpe United four days later.
He scored his first senior Rovers goal against Northampton on 31st August.
A successful first season as a professional saw him make 47 appearances in all competitions and his progress was such that he signed a new contract in March 2014.
His outstanding form in his first season in the pro ranks saw him win the Supporters Club Young Player of the Year Award.
He was a regular in the side that spent a year in the Vanarama Conference and was a member of the side that clinched promotion back to the Football League at the first attempt, following a penalty shootout in the play off final against Grimsby Town, at Wembley, last year.
Since making his first team debut Tom has gone on to appear in a total of 127 league games for Rovers, together with another 13 in cup and play off games.