05:00 7th June 2013
Baggies also hand O'Neil and Roofe new contracts
ACADEMY product Jack Rose has been rewarded for his progress with his first professional contract.
The 18-year-old goalkeeper has been granted a one-year deal, plus a further year’s option in the club’s favour.
The Baggies have also handed new one-year contracts to young pros Liam O’Neil and Kemar Roofe, and taken up one-year options on Donervorn Daniels and Cameron Gayle, while James Hurst and Romaine Sawyers have been released.
Rose has risen through the club’s Academy ranks and will now battle it out with 16-year-old Alex Palmer for regular Barclays Under-21 Premier League football, after third-year scholar Shane Lewis was allowed to leave.
Sporting & Technical Director (Designate) Richard Garlick said: “Jack is one of a number of good goalkeepers at the club. We are well off in that department.
“We have three strong senior goalkeepers in Ben Foster, Boaz Myhill and Luke Daniels and Jack and Alex provide good competition underneath them.
“Jack will get good opportunities in our Under-21s team. This is an important year for him.”
Rose’s 2012/13 campaign was hampered by injury but Academy Manager Mark Harrison is in no doubt about his pedigree, with the Solihull-born custodian and Palmer having both represented England at Under-16s level.
“Jack’s been with us an awful long time,” he added.
“He’s had some England recognition but has had a tough time over the last couple of years with injuries related to his growth.
“But he has had a good few injury-free months so hopefully he’s clear of any problems now.
“Jack’s highly thought of at the football club.
“He’s a modern-day goalkeeper with excellent distribution skills. He’s calm, manages games, is tactically very good, is in great physical shape and has really good technical attributes.”
Rose’s peers - central-midfielder Aaron Birch (from Halesowen), striker Alex Jones (Wolverhampton) and full-backs Jordan Francis (Erdington) and Wes Atkinson (West Bromwich) - have earned third-year scholarships.
Joel Ambalu and Kieran McCalla have been released after completing second-year scholarships.
“It was a sad occasion to let Joel and Kieran go but we just felt it was in their best interests,” said Harrison.
“The interesting thing with the boys we’ve kept is there is a balance through the team.
“Wes and Jordan have spent most of the season playing in the back-four, Aaron plays in central midfield, Alex Jones up front and Jack Rose in goal.
“We have therefore kept three players who are the spine of the team and two who both play in the full-back positions.
“To retain five out of seven from that age group is a good reflection on what we’re doing as an Academy.
“It’s also nice to see they are all local boys. It shows we are sticking to our policy of trying to develop and nurture local talent.”
He added: “They’ve got a lot of work to do if they’re going to reach Premier League level because it’s such a difficult level to get to now.
“All these boys need to work on their physical development because the Premier League players are all fine physical specimens – even the smaller ones like David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
“You can’t underestimate the importance of that, as well as the technical and tactical ability they must have.
“They need to grab the opportunity by the scruff of the neck.
“Everything is in place for them to maximise their potential.
“They’ll be playing in the Elite League so they will have the opportunities and they need to be pushing to get into Steve Clarke’s training group.”