Academy Manager Ricky Duncan on the contracts offered to his youngsters
Academy Manager Ricky Duncan was delighted to see four under-18’s be offered further development with the club.
First-team boss Phil Brown offered professional deals to Jason Williams, Josh Banton and Jack Bridge, while Kane Farrell signed a third-year development deal.
Those four follow on from goalkeeper Ted Smith who signed a professional deal in January, and Duncan was delighted for them all.
On Ted Smith, Duncan said: “It has been amazing to see how much he has come on in the last year. He came in as a 12-year-old in the shadow squad and as a first year scholar lacked some confidence.
“But he has been a terrific captain and has made huge strides in terms of personality and his ability. It’s been great to see.
“He’ll now want to be pushing Dan Bentley and the other goalkeepers, and Dan will know he’s got a top goalkeeper coming through.”
Jack Payne signed a professional deal last season, and Duncan feels Jack Bridge is a similar sort of player. He said: “Jack has been with us since the age of 10, and he has got great ability to create something.
“He loves to be on the ball, which is quite rare at the moment. He likes to have the ball at his feet and does share some of the attributes of Jack Payne.
“But they are slightly different in the roles they place. Bridgey also likes to chip in with goals, which have helped the under-18’s this season.”
Forward Williams made his first-team debut this season, and immediately showed his pace that almost saw him score.
Duncan said of the striker: “He’s a powerful, pacy, forward that needs to work on his technique a little bit. He’s hard to deal with and defenders find him difficult to play against.
“He’s come on a lot this season and has got goals in his game. He has also got the focus and determination to continue progressing.”
Banton has been involved in the first-team squad on a number of occasions, and Duncan said: “He’s a quick defender who has been comfortable at this level because of the pace he has.
“I could sense as 13-year-old he had the ability to kick on and that is what he has done. Strikers will have to be quick to get past him. He’s a real athlete.”
Finally, Farrell has scored some stunning goals, and Duncan is pleased he has another year to continue developing. He added: “Kane is a left-back who likes to get forward and has scored some great goals this year.
“Defensively he looks assured. I’m delighted he’ll be with us next season to continue improving because he’s got the ability.”