We are pleased to announce that striker James Spruce and left back Alfie Clarke, who are currently members of our Academy U-18 squad have been offered professional contracts for next season.
Both have featured heavily for the U18s side over the past two seasons, and this season they have both enjoyed loan spells at Southern League clubs.
James has spent time with Larkhall, Cinderford and Farnborough, while Alfie has been with Larkhall and they have gained valuable experience of playing senior competitive football.
Academy Manager Jonathan Henderson commented; “We are delighted that another two young players have been offered the opportunity to continue their footballing development with the club. It is a great achievement for them to be rewarded with a contract for next season and, hopefully, they can continue to progress as others have in recent years, to have an impact on our first team. It also shows our continued commitment as a club to invest in talented young players.”
Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Tom Parrinello said; “Over the last two years, Alfie and James have shown a fantastic willingness and desire to improve and progress and they are both thoroughly deserving of the contracts they have earned themselves.
“We, as staff, are absolutely delighted for the boys and feel it shows that, with the right desire to improve, and the right mentality to work hard coupled with the ability to perform at a consistently high level you will reap the rewards.
“We have worked a lot this season on individual and collective standards within the group, both on and off the pitch, and Alfie and James epitomise everything that a young aspiring professional footballer should do in order to get to the next step of their development.
“They set a fine example to the first years and the younger players that have been involved throughout the season, whether that be on the pitch through excellent performances or off the pitch doing additional bits and pieces to gain any advantage possible”
In recent weeks, eight players from the Academy’s U-16 squad have also signed scholarships with the club for the next two seasons. The players moving into the full time programme for next season are Harry Thomas-Barker, Luc Noble, Luca Hoole, George Fowler, Mason Raymond, Isiah Crawford, Ollie Hulbert and Kieran Phillips.
Whilst there is cause to be pleased for the players who are making the progression from the part time programme to scholarship, or from scholarship to professional contracts there is of course inevitable disappointment for those players who have been unsuccessful.
“It is important,” said Henderson, “that we continue to look after the wellbeing of the players who have been unsuccessful.
“For those players who haven’t gained an offer for next season, our focus now becomes about supporting them in finding other opportunities going forward whether that be trials at other clubs, support in looking at educational opportunities or simply providing them with support to move into the workplace.”
We wish all the players well in their future.