Young Guns offered first first professional deals
Oxford United are proud to announce that three of their young players have been offered professional contracts for next season.
Defender Sam Long, left back David Lynn and forward Callum O'Dowda have been rewarded for their outstanding efforts in the under 18 side this season. Chris Allen's side ended the season as runners up in their division while also enjoying a successful FA Youth Cup run.
All three have been with the club since the age of nine and will form part of the Development Squad which will operate next season, playing competitive matches against senior sides to help bridge the gap from youth to men's football. It is the first time that three under 18s have been offered professional contracts for more than ten years and highlights the progress being made in the youth development side of things at the club. They will join fellow youth team graduates Max Crocombe and Tyrone Marsh in the first team squad next season.
Simon Lenagan, head of the club's Youth and Community Trust said:
"It is fantastic news and we offer our warmest congratulations to the three players. It is the result of a great deal of hard work, not only by them but by all of the coaches and staff that have helped them progress over the last few years. That hard work will continue as they make the step up to being professional footballers.
"The development squad is a new stage for players next season. They will play a set number of games against strong opposition and play alongside their peers as well as one or two older players. That will be fantastic experience for them and they are also very much part of the first team squad.
"It is part of the longer term plan that we have for the club. There has been a significant increase in focus aimed at giving players such as Sam, Callum and David a chance to shine. There is now a clear route for players from the younger age groups right through to the first team, something that has not always happened here and something we feel can only benefit the club.
"We firmly believe in investing in the best local young players and Oxford United has a great tradition of bringing youngsters into the team. The fans identify with them and we are sure that they will give them all the encouragement they need as and when they appear in the first team."
All three players were naturally delighted. Callum O'Dowda, speaking on their behalf said:
"I think all three of us are still buzzing after being told today. We are all local lads and to be offered this opportunity is something we have dreamed of since we first started playing in the under 9s. For all three of us to get the chance together is the icing on the cake. "