Oxford United are delighted to announce that five scholars have been offered their first professional contracts with the club.
The U’s have a fantastic tradition of helping to develop young players; Sam Long, Josh Ashby, James Roberts, Jack Stevens, Malachi Napa, Shandon Baptiste and Manny Agboola are already professionals with the club and this year sees a record five players offered their opportunity. They are:
Niall Clayton - a physically dominant goalkeeper who joined the club after impressing on trial last season.
Aaron Heap - a local Oxford lad who has been with the Academy for the last 8 years.
Albie Hopkins- a creative winger who has been a regular goal-scorer for the U-18s this year.
Dejon Noel-Williams- a powerfully built centre forward who has already had loan spells in Senior Football this season.
Matt Berry-Hargreaves - a pacy central defender who has captained the youth team this season.
They join striker Owen James, a first year scholar who was offered professional terms earlier in the season.
Dan Harris, Head of Academy said:
“Whilst it is clearly exciting news for the lads to be extending their time with Oxford United the message remains that they have a lot of hard work ahead of them before they can consider themselves a player. All five lads are good characters who I know will work tirelessly to build on this opportunity.
“I’d like to put on record my thanks to all the Academy staff who have played a part in supporting these lads on their journey to this point and would also like to thank our new Chairman ‘Tiger’ who believes in the importance of a thriving Academy and has backed our judgement that these five players have the potential to develop further.
“This time of year is always hard as we make the decision which young men we are going to release. Unfortunately Rex Mannings, Graham Bryan, Ben Chilcott, Dan Carr and Nathan Baker will not be extending their time with Oxford United. All five lads have been a credit to both themselves and the club during their time with us and we wish them well as they take the next steps on their footballing journey.
"With the five new young professionals it gives us scope to press ahead with our plans for a full Under 23 Development squad to bridge the gap between youth team football and the senior side. That is another exciting development and we hope to be able to announce full details very soon.”