Manager Steven Pressley spoke more about the reasoning behind the contract offer made to 16-year-old scholar Jarrad Branthwaite ahead of today’s early morning training session.
“Bringing young players through is something I’ve always looked to do as a manager because it’s what your academy system should be about,” he said. “Even with younger players not from your own club, and we can look at Regan Slater who is 18 and Callum O’Hare who is 20 as examples of that, they will get games if they show they’re good enough.
“I like to have young players in the group because they have an infectious type of character and they want to do well and impress with everything they do.”
“This club has a really good catchment area and a strong youth policy, and it’s important that we continue to develop it and reward the lads who come through and who do stand out.
“With Liam [McCarron] getting his contract, and now Jarrad getting his, we’re sending the strongest possible message we can to the academy and its young players. If you’re good enough you’re old enough, I genuinely believe that, and that’s why we will work closely with them to pass on our knowledge and to make them better.
“Obviously in return the young players have a responsibility to act professionally, which means we need them to train correctly and we need them to conduct themselves in the right way. If they do that, and if they keep developing as players, they’ll get their opportunities here.”
Speaking more about the attributes he’s spotted in Jarrad, he told us: “I’ve worked with a lot of young players and I still get excited when I see them stand out.
“After watching the game at Oldham I phoned David [Holdsworth] a number of times to talk about what I’d seen. Sometimes you just get a feeling, and Jarrad has stood out as one who has a real chance.
“He’s very imposing for such a young man. He’s 6ft 4 but, for being so big, and he’s still to fill into his body as yet, he’s very quick across the ground and he’s very comfortable on the ball with both feet.
“One thing that I was pleasantly surprised about with him was that, even though he is still learning the game, he’s very aggressive with his head. We don’t often see that in younger players so, in my opinion, he has all of the attributes that could help him to become a very good central defender.
“Only time will tell and, as ever, a lot of it will be down to him. What I have said to his parents is that we won’t fail him in the way we treat him. He’ll be given every chance to improve and if he reaches the potential I think he has then we’ll have a real player on our hands.
“He’s made a big impression on us with the way he’s conducted himself and we see him as a young boy who has big potential. I use the word ‘potential’ because that’s all it is at this moment in time.”
“The good thing is that he has a really good family around him,” he said. “His mother and father are talking to him all the time about how important his attitude is going to be over the next few years, and his grandad goes to all of his games.
“That kind of support network is massive for a young boy at a time like this. He clearly comes from a very stable family and they’re looking after him.
“As his coaching staff our job is to continuously push him, and we’ve spoken about that as well. We can’t allow him to become complacent in any way, shape or form.
“I feel it’s a really good bit of business and I’m delighted that he’ll be with us for the foreseeable future.”