Carlisle United are delighted to announce that a crop of four young Cumbrians have joined Whitehaven-born midfielder Taylor Charters in the professional ranks today having been offered one-year senior contracts by the club [all players have indicated that they will accept their offers].
The quartet of 18-year-old graduates, all born in Carlisle, join Jarrad Branthwaite, Josh Dixon, Josh Galloway, Keighran Kerr and Liam McCarron in having made it through the club’s academy system over the course of the last 18-months to go on to receive a contract offer.
Charters, also 18, signed a two-year deal (with an option) at the start of his second-year as a scholar in August 2019. He has now been joined by defenders Charlie Barnes and Charlie Birch [both have the versatility to play in midfield], midfielder/defender Liam Lightfoot and central defender Tom Wilson.
Director of football David Holdsworth said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to offer these young men the opportunity to continue their development at this club.
“They’ve all had another successful year within the academy system and this is a continuation of the pathway they’ve been on with the club for a number of years now. It’s fantastic for this city to be bringing Cumbrians through like this, but it has to be noted that this is a reward for hard work.
“Part of what we set out to achieve at this club was a foundation for our young players to be able to progress, not just through the scholarship period but, if they prove to be good enough, beyond that.”
“It’s a very old cliché, but the hard work starts here,” he added. “This next year is going to be very intense for them, with much more training and development planned. We want to do what we can to help them gain a career in football but ultimately it comes down to them.
“We’ll give them the tools because they’ve shown us already that they are prepared to push themselves. We need to see more of that from them all, and I’m sure we will. This is only the first step but it’s one they’ve earned.
“There are areas where they all need to improve, but they know that. Chris and his staff will now push them even more and, as I say, we’re hoping this will prove to be a very successful year for them.
"As I said earlier, we're all delighted for the lads, and the overall aim for us to make our academy the most over-achieving academy at this level. We're all working hard to make that the case.
Academy boss Eric Kinder said: “It’s been a good season for the under-18 side. We had Josh Galloway who left us very early on, who would have been a second year, and obviously Jarrad [Branthwaite] who left us in January.
“On top of that we had Taylor [Charters] who signed his professional contract early. When we bring this crop of four into the equation it means we’ve seen a very good group.”
“I’m sure everybody will be saying this to them, but they’re now on the first rung of a big ladder,” he continued. “They’ve got a chance to be a professional footballer, but it’s all about the work they do now that they’ve got over the hurdle of youth team football. They’ve got a heck of a lot of work in front of them if they want to go and be successful.
“If you include Josh and Jarrad, all seven of them are local lads who have all been with the academy from a very young age. That’s really pleasing for us all. There are a lot of people associated with the academy, part-time and full-time staff, who have had a bit of an influence as the years have gone on. It’s now down to the first team staff to start them off in their professional career.”
“There’s not two ways about, this next step is the hardest part,” he told us. “When you’re going up through the age groups you think getting from under-8 to under-16 is hard, and then when you’re 16 you start to think about how hard it is to become a scholar.
“If you make it you suddenly find out just how tough that two-year period is. Then, if you get your pro deal, it’s the final bit and it’s a real test. It’s the serious side of their career now.
“They’ll work a lot in a development group next year, as we’ve had this year, so they’ll get extra work to do and extra games to play. We need to have a proper look at how we’ll structure that, but we’ll come up with the answers to give them every opportunity to go on and be a regular first-team player at this club.”
“We still have Jamie Armstrong and Kyle Soper from the group to decide on,” he concluded. “That should happen in the next few weeks or so.
“With these four through this afternoon it does mean we’ve had a really good day and the academy has had a really strong year. It puts pressure on them and us as staff to make sure we maintain the standards. We go into next year aiming for the same.”