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Local Baggies quintet earn first pro deals

PUBLISHED

09:10 22nd May 2014

Club also reveal host of new contracts, extensions and third-year scholarships

ALBION Academy products Wes Atkinson (full-back), Aaron Birch (midfielder), Alex Jones (striker), Callam Jones (centre-back) and Alex Palmer (goalkeeper) have all been rewarded for their progress with their first professional contracts.

The local quintet have each agreed a one-year deal, plus a further year’s option in the club’s favour.

The Baggies also signed midfielder Samir Nabi on his first professional forms in December, tying him to the club until June 2015.

From the current pros, goalkeeper Jack Rose has been handed a new two-year contract, while centre-half Donervorn Daniels and winger Kemar Roofe have been handed new one-year deals, plus a further year’s option in the club’s favour.

Full-back Bradley Garmston’s contract has been extended by a further year and the club have taken up their one-year option on forward Mani O’Sullivan, while Cameron Gayle and third-year scholar Jordan Francis have been released.

Director of Football Administration Richard Garlick said: “Donervorn and Kemar were in and out of the first-team squad at the end of the season and were regularly training with the first team.

“These deals are a reward for that and give them the platform to see if they can break into the squad on a more regular basis.

“Jack has progressed really well and was recently called up by England Under-19s.

“We have got high hopes he can really push on next season and he now has two years where he can focus and show us what he can do.

“In terms of young goalkeepers, we are really well stocked, as we have Alex Palmer as well, and both have really good attitudes.

“We are trying to find a solution to bridge the gap between when players turn 18 and when they make their Premier League debuts at 21, on average.

“We have been successful in the last couple of seasons with George Thorne, Saido Berahino and Liam O’Neil, who is starting to come through.

“We want to make our Under-21s group as competitive as it can be and these pro deals give the players the opportunity to push on.”

He added: “Cameron and Jordan showed great dedication when they were here and we would like to wish them all the best for the future.”

Danny Barrow (midfielder), Kyle Howkins (centre-back), Ryan Pace (central midfielder), Tom Smart (left-back) and Rees Wedderburn (midfielder) have earned third-year scholarships.

Matt Buchannon and Ged Oldnall have been released after completing second-year scholarships.

Academy Manager Mark Harrison said: “All of the boys we have given third-year scholarships to have all shown they have potential to develop.

“It is important we give them time and are patient with them as they focus more closely on their football after completing their education programmes.

“Apart from Danny, they are all local lads, which is very much part of our philosophy.

“The lads we have released have great attitudes but we feel it is only fair they get the chance to pursue careers at other clubs because their pathways are blocked by other players ahead of them here.”

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