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CONTRACT: Youth defender agrees first pro deal

Scholar makes the grade

27 January 2022

Carlisle United are delighted to announce that second-year youth scholar Jack Ellis has agreed his first professional contract – a two-year deal – which keeps him at Brunton Park until the summer of 2024 (deal active on completion of his scholarship programme).

Defender Ellis, 18, from Kendal, has been with the academy from the age of 12 and has shown an ability to cover a number of positions across the back line.

This year’s youth team captain's efforts in the under-18 set-up earned him extensive training time with the first-team, and he has been on the bench for the Papa John’s Trophy game against Everton U21s, the FA Cup second-round meeting with Shrewsbury and the league away trip to Scunthorpe so far this season.

Manager Keith Millen said: “He’s done really well in the youth team this year and from what they’ve told me he’s almost outgrown that set-up and the youth games he plays in.

“He’s had a bit of a growth spurt where he’s become bigger and stronger, and I think it became almost too easy for him at that level.

“His next progression was to train with us and I always look at how these lads cope when they make that next step. He adapted really quickly, and not all young players are able do that.

“Some struggle, but he settled and that’s a very good sign. I think it was right for us to offer him his first professional deal, he deserves his chance because of the way he’s been in our first-team environment.

“He’s been around the match day squad, he’s travelled to some of our away games and he’s been on the bench, and all of that has been taken in his stride. It puts him in good stead for his future at this club.”

“He’s a really hardworking lad who wants to learn,” he continued. “He isn’t intimidated when he trains with us and, like I say, he’s earned his chance.

“These are the days you enjoy as a manager because there are a lot of occasions when you’re telling players what is disappointing news.

“When you talk to Jack you can see how excited and keen he is about the opportunities he’s been given, so it’s a nice feeling to be able to give him his contract off the back of that.

“You’ve got to give the academy staff a lot of credit as well because they’re the people who have brought him to this place so far. It’s their hard work that has helped to see him through and it’s over to him now to try to become a first-team player."

“The reality check after the high of getting the contract is that he can’t tail off in any way,” he concluded. “He has to continue to strive to get better, and he has to compete with professionals who are older and who have had more experience.

“That’s the game, that’s how it works, he knows that, and I think he’s level-headed enough to meet that challenge head on.

"Well see how strong the squad is over the next few weeks and if we think it’s right for him, and I do think he’s ready for men’s football, I’ll look at possibly getting him game time somewhere else as part of his development.

“These young lads need to know that if we send them out on-loan it’s with a purpose, it’s not because they aren’t wanted by us. We’ll look at that and we’ll make a decision accordingly.”

Youth boss Mark Birch said: “I think he deserves this because of the way he’s been as a player and as a person. He’s been with us from a young age and we’ve always thought very highly of him.

“He’s become a very good youth team player because of the way he’s handled himself. He carries himself in the right way when he’s around the club and that matters in terms of giving off a good impression.

“Getting to where he is now is the easy bit. He now has to cross that void of being a youth team player to starting regularly in the senior team, and it’s one of the biggest steps he’ll ever have to make.

“The good thing is that he doesn’t look out of place at all when he’s with the professional players, and that’s because he applies himself to everything he does in the correct manner.

“He’s done things diligently and professionally for a long time, so the transition for him will be smooth. He doesn’t have to change much about himself at all because there’s no front to him.

“He’s the latest of the second years to get a pro deal and that tells the rest of them that the carrot is there. The club has proved that they'll invest in youth players who they deem are good enough, so every player in our set-up has to be asking themselves who is going to be next.

“It’s up to them to work hard, have a good push between now and the end of the season, and see who can catch the manager’s eye whenever they get the opportunity to do so.”

Academy manager Simon Friel said: “As academy manager it’s great to see our academy players progress within the club.

"For Jack to come into the club as an under-9 and progress right through to getting a professional contract is a fantastic achievement for him, and something he can be really proud of.

"Jack has developed well over his time within the academy, not just as a player but also as a person. This is something that is equally pleasing as he is a committed, respectful and hard working individual who always represents the club well, and I’m sure he will continue to carry these attributes into the next step of his footballing journey.

"Personally I’m really proud of what Jack has achieved. I wish him all the best and look forward to seeing how he progresses.”


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