Keeper Morgan Bacon moves on to the next stage of his development next season when he comes back for pre-season with a one-year contract freshly signed having successfully completed his two-year scholarship spell with the club.
The Bury-born stopper, 19 in September, was one of four under-18 second years to make it through the ranks the season and he admitted that it was a fantastic feeling when he was given the news that he was been kept on at the club.
“I was absolutely buzzing to be offered a contract because it’s what I’ve wanted ever since I was a kid,” he said. “It felt even better on the day because I didn’t have any idea at all that it was coming. At the time Mark [Gillespie] and Max [Crocombe] were both still at the club so I didn’t know if there’d even be any room for a young keeper to be taken on.
“It’s just brilliant that it’s happened. When I let my family know I’d got the offer they were delighted for me. They’ve obviously supported me every step of the way and they’ve been there for me with whatever I’ve needed. I can’t thank them enough for that and I hope now they feel it was all worth it.”
As to whether or not he has yet got his head round the fact he’s been successful, he said: “No, it really hasn’t sunk in yet. I think it’ll probably sink in once I get back for pre-season and we’re working to get ready for the new season every day.
“Darren [Edmondson] and Dave [Wilkes] have already told me to make sure I work hard through the summer weeks and to stay on top of my fitness. They actually told me that part of the improvement they want to see from me is in my physicality and presence, so I’ll be concentrating on that.
“I think it’s also been a boost that four of us came through at the same time. We’ve lived and worked together for two years and hopefully we’ll be able to keep each other going. It was a bunch of great lads to be honest and it was really tough and gutting to have to say goodbye to the other lads, but I know they’ll want us to push on and do the best we can.”
Having already trained with the first team keepers on a regular basis through last season, and spent a short spell on loan with Penrith, he said: “I’ve learned a heck of a lot from that. It’s improved me in so many ways and it’s helped me to get to the stage I’m at.
“I know there are still a lot of things for me to develop and improve on and that’s why I’m going to listen to everything Keith, Simon [Tracey] and the other coaches tell me. One area I want to concentrate on is my distribution, because it needs to be quicker, but it’ll all come together in time for me, I hope.
“The other thing I have in mind that it will be a lot different for me going into this pre-season than it ever has been before. It’s a first team squad where you have to make your mark and prove yourself. The manager has created a really demanding environment, I’m fully aware of that, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge of making myself part of it.”
As for where he draws his inspiration from within the world of goalkeeping, he told us: “I always watch keepers like Joe Hart, Kasper Schmeichel and Jack Butland, and some of the others, because I think you can always pick things up from the way the best players do things. Your aim has to be to reach their levels.
“The really interesting thing for us at the moment is to see who comes in now that both of our keepers have moved on. It’ll be important that I build up a good working relationship with them and I’m looking forward to that as well. If it’s players with experience then that’s another way of me being able to learn more to help my own game.
“My aim has to be to push to get into the first team squad. To do that I need to keep improving so that I’m pushing myself forward as much as I can. If it all goes well it’ll give the manager something to think about during the season and when it’s time to look at my contract situation again.”