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ACADEMY: Four second-year youth players given third-year scholarships

11 April 2024

Club News

ACADEMY: Four second-year youth players given third-year scholarships

11 April 2024

Carlisle United are delighted to confirm that four second-year youth players have been offered third-year scholarships at Brunton Park.

Jake Allan, Aran Fitzpatrick, Sam Hetherington and Josh O’Brien are set to continue their development as part of Mark Birch’s youth side next season.

Academy manager Steven Rudd said: “It’s brilliant for all four lads, it’s a step in the right direction and a great opportunity for them.

“All four of them have absolutely deserved it with the way they’ve gone about their last two-years and it gives all of the lads in the academy hope that they can follow suit.

“They’ve all had loan spells at Workington which has meant they’ve already experienced senior football. That’s a real positive step for them and gives them a starting point for next year. They’ll hopefully be able to get more of that experience next year.

“We’ve given them third-year scholarships to make sure the lads continue to get the development coaching and time that they might not get with a professional contract. Sometimes it’s easy when they’re a first-year pro to expect a bit too much from them so this will hopefully help them bridge the gap.

“We’re looking forward to working with them all next year. We’d also like to wish the rest of lads the best of luck as they leave us and

Youth boss Mark Birch said: “It’s great for the lads and it will give them an extra year of development.

“They can stay as part of the youth team and go out on loan which gives them a lot more options going forward.

“They’ve all had loan experiences this year and done well and gained good experience from going there and seeing what senior football is like.

“Going forward, we’ll be looking at getting them more first-team experience to make sure they continue that development and we’re looking forward to seeing how they progress next year.”

Fellow second-years Jacob Barry, Will Maddison, Romeo Park, Robbie Swinburn and James Walsh have been released on completion of their respective scholarships, and the club wishes them well as they move on to their next challenge.

Mark Birch added: “It’s always a difficult day when you have to tell lads you’ve worked with for two-years that they aren’t getting another contract.

“Most of them will leave with no regrets which is one of the first things we say to them when they first arrive. Whether they’re successful or unsuccessful, we want them to go away knowing they’ve done everything they can and I think these lads have done that.

“We will obviously do anything we can to help these lads with anything they need going forward. If it’s a case of them carrying on their career elsewhere we will all give them any advice or help they might need going forward.”

Paul Simpson also had the following to say: "It's a different route we're taking with them, normally when they come to the end of their scholarship it's 'are they good enough for a pro contract', which means they have to come in and be involved in the first team, because we don't have any other holding area for them.

"We've looked at the third-year scholarship as a way to try and get them more development time, more coaching time, rather than being involved in the first team. The way it works normally in a season is play, recover, play, sometimes you get a week of training, so there's very little opportunity for development stuff.

"We're going down this route with them and I think it gives them an extra year to show that they're worthy of coming into it. I think it's fair to say that all four of them are not ready for the first team at the moment, but they've certainly shown enough over the two years they've been with us.

"The main idea is to give them another 12 months of development, stay involved in the Academy with the under-18 group, they're able to play in the youth team games, if they need games and we also have the option of sending them out on loan if we want to."

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