Macclesfield Town’s hugely productive youth system has seen almost a full team of graduates sign professional contracts.
The class of 2010 left youth team manager John Askey in no doubt of their potential and ‘Sir John’ is confident that in time his nine graduates will be valuable members of the Silkmen squad.
"The lads have agreed and signed pro contracts," said Askey. "They’ll do their exams and then they’ll be reporting for pre-season training on July 1.
"I’ve got high hopes for them, they’ve all impressed and they’ve more than held their own. I’m hopeful they’ll be real assets."
The nine new professionals are:
- Chris Mullen, Wirral-based goalkeeper who’s progressed through the centre of excellence.
- Elliott Hewitt, right-back with Welsh schoolboy honours under his belt.
- James Bolton, centre-back, previously on the books at Stoke City.
- George Robertson, Liverpudlian central defender, son of former Bury player John.
- Jake Vernon, midfielder snapped up by Macc after his release from Port Vale.
- Paddy Kilburn, a midfielder formerly at Liverpool, Wigan and Manchester City.
- Jay Burgess, local lad and former England schoolboy who plays in midfield or in attack.
- Ryan Meredith, Nantwich-based striker who has been particularly impressive in his second year.
- Jordan Trinci-Lyne, striker from Stockport with a grounding from the centre of excellence.
Askey is in no doubt of the importance that home-grown players have in the future of Macc, adding: "The club relies on young lads coming through, so it’s important that we get it right.
"It is getting easier to attract talented young lads to our training ground in Knutsford. It’s a good catchment area and we’ve got a lot of good contacts established.
"It’s been a good season for the development of the youths, we got to the final of the cup for the first time ever, despite a lot of our older lads playing in the reserve team.
"We had a lot of schoolboys in that final and we only lost on penalties."
But as this batch of players look to win a place in the first team, Askey had to spare a thought for their former team-mates, who will leave the club this summer.
"That’s the worst part of my job to be honest, especially when one of them (James Askey) is your nephew. We’d like to have three-year scholarships but it’s just not possible to do that. But they’ve had a good grounding and there’s no reason they can’t be taken on elsewhere."