Three current second year scholars have been offered professional contracts at Preston North End for the 2017/18 season.
Midfielder and 2016/17 youth team captain Melle Meulensteen, winger Joshua Earl and goalkeeper Callum Roberts have all been rewarded with the chance to become part of the first team squad at Deepdale.
The trio, who played a major part as the Academy reached the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals for the first time in over 50 years, will be offered one year contracts with an option for a second year, effective from 1st July.
First team manager spoke to all the current second years to inform them of the decisions made about their futures and said: “It's never an easy day when you are making these decisions and talking to the young players, because their hearts are set on becoming a professional and getting a professional contract. We don't give contracts out for the sake of it, the players have to look like they have the potential to be around the first team very quickly, so we are fortunate we have three this year.
“Josh Earl, Melle Meulensteen and Callum Roberts have got the contracts and they are now sort of bottom end of the ladder again and they have to work hard and come back in pre-season ready to train with the first team and ultimately to try and take someone's place.
“Congratulations to them, and to the other lads who haven't got one we wish them well. We will do whatever we can to help them find a club and hopefully they don't give up on their dream of being a professional footballer.”
The players themselves were obviously delighted to be given the opportunity, Melle said: “I am delighted. When Josh, Callum and I were brought into the office and were told that we were getting the contract, it was a great moment for us. We have worked hard for it, so hopefully we can push on now and continue working hard.
“I just want to make sure that I am actually competing with other players in my position, and not going in just to make up the numbers and hopefully trying to get into the team.”
Whilst Joshua added: “It has been my dream for the past ten years. It is all I have worked for because I’ve been here since I was nine-years-old, so I’ve been working towards a professional contract for the past ten years and to finally get to earn it was a dream come true.
“I just want to try to get into the gaffer’s plans, and work as hard as I possibly can to show that I’m not just a young kid still.”
And Callum too was happy to be given the opportunity to try and prove himself at the next level: “It is a massive achievement. But it just feels like now it is time to kick on and move up, because I think I’m ready for the next step in what will hopefully be a career in the game.
“The hard work doesn’t stop now, it’s just the next step. I am looking to get my head down straight away and for me, the start of next season starts now.”