Carlisle United are delighted to confirm that second-year scholars Gabriel Breeze, Sam Fishburn and Scott Simons have been handed two-year professional contracts [with a further one-year club option] ahead of the start of the new season.
Breeze and Simons, both 17, came through the club’s academy system (Breeze joining as a teenager and Simons as an eight-year-old) and impressed with their attitude and application through their first 12-months with the under-18 team.
They regularly trained with the first team, also taking part in pre-match warm-ups on match days with Chris Beech and his squad.
Fishburn, also 17, was plucked out of the north-east local circuit, where he was playing with Wallsend Boys Club, and took to academy football like a duck to water. He scored 23 goals in all competitions last season making him the highest scorer across the country at that level.
Manager Chris Beech said: “I think it’s great that we have a clear pathway for young players who are coming through our system, whatever age they join our academy.
“It’s something we did very well at my last club and I think it’s extremely important for clubs like ours. The fact that we’re doing it consistently is something that should be celebrated.
“The staff who have helped the keepers come through deserve a pat on the back because their work often goes unnoticed. The fact that they work tirelessly every Tuesday and Thursday night, sometimes at difficult venues, means that seeing their players make it to a full contract is a great reward for their efforts.”
“All three lads have been reminded that this is just the beginning,” he continued. “My dad used to say to me that every new start line you get to, every new door you go through, there’s the next one to achieve after that.
“They’ve got their first professional contracts and now it’s about reaching the new start line of making a difference. That means they’ve got to work hard so that they can make that difference by getting in our team.
“To help them they’ll train with us as much as possible. No matter how hard Mark Birch works the young lads, there’s always a significant difference in the pace of a pass or in the physicality of the movement.
“They do the same sessions, but the players doing it make it more intense. For them to get up to speed properly they’ll have to work at that greater intensity, so they’ll have to get with us as much as they possibly can.”
Director of football David Holdsworth said: “We’re delighted for all three of these boys, and for their families, who have been there for them every step of the way. It’s their first professional contract and it’s a reward for the hard work they’ve done and for the support, advice and coaching they’ve received through their time with the club.
“I said when I first came here that we wanted to instil a sense of identity, and producing good young players from our academy is a big part of that. It shows us that we’ve got the right people in the right positions and that we’re identifying the right types of players to take the journey with us.
“They know that this is only the beginning and that it’s up to them to continue the hard work they’ve done. We’ll all be here to help them, that’s always the case, but we’re giving them the responsibility of listening, learning and putting the effort in to make sure they keep pushing on.
“This is another crop of young men the fans can be enthused by. They’ll obviously continue with their scholarship, but they can expect to be around the first team environment as part of that.
“It’s very good business and I’m delighted all three are on long-term deals. Well done to them, and I’m looking forward to seeing them push on from here.”
Under-18s boss Mark Birch said: “It’s great for the lads, it really is. They've come in and done really well through their first year with the under-18 group.
“For all three of them it’s now about taking that next step and getting themselves around the first team regularly.
“The hardest step to make in football is gaining the trust of the manager, but if they get their heads down and work hard they’ll get their opportunity. It’s up to them to grasp the chance they’ve been given.
“It’s good for the club, it’s good for the area, and it’s nice for the coaches who work in the academy to see this happen. Everybody has played their part at some point.
“The manager has already said that they’ll now get the chance to train with his group. Within our club the most important thing is the first team.
“If you were to ask the young players where they want to be, it’s with the senior squad. We’d love to have them training with us on a daily basis, but their careers come before what we need. It’s over to them to do the work that means they stay in the manager’s thoughts.
“I’m delighted for all three of them. Well done to them for their achievement, and they all understand completely that this is just the beginning. We’re here to help and advise, but it’s up to them to carry it on.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Chris Beech on iFollow United now.
Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.