Preston North End have strengthened their Academy by adding ten scholars to the squad ahead of the 2021/22 season.
All ten players have agreed two-year scholarship deals at the club and will play for the U18s over the course of the next two campaigns as they look to continue their development and make a push towards first team football.
To find out more about the lads who will be joining up with the youth team, Head of Coaching Matt Craddock gave us an insight into each player.
Rio Pemberton - Forward - DOB: 20/03/05
“Rio joined us as an U16. He came in on trial after not getting a scholarship from Blackburn Rovers and really impressed us. He’s a winger/forward type player, quick, skilful on the ball and quite creative in the attacking third.”
Kian Best - Defender - DOB: 27/08/05
“Besty’s been with us all the way though the Academy. He’s played a lot at left back and at centre back, and I think he’ll probably be playing primarily at centre back. He has an absolute wand of a left foot. He’s really combative, quite physical and aggressive as well in a tackle. Great kid, local lad.”
Josh Seary - Defender - DOB: 10/09/04
“Josh joined us at U12s or U13s. He’s a Liverpool lad, a right back and he’s just represented Ireland in the last U19 training camp. He's a fantastic player and really good at going forward. He’s quick, good on the ball, gets into attacking areas and delivers some good crosses. He’s been playing for the U18s all season, popping up with a few goals as well.”
Noah Mawene - Midfielder - DOB: 01/02/05
“Great kid from Lytham. I think we finally got him signed around U13s, but we’d been watching him for a long time before that. He’s a fantastic player. He's a central midfielder who can play number four, eight or ten; he’s a box-to-box player. Good on the ball but it’s his real energy and commitment that brings his quality out in the game. He’s been playing with the U18s all season, captained them towards the end of the season, and he’s bagged ten or 11 goals for the U18s as an U16.”
Jacob Slater - Defender - DOB: 05/10/04
“Jacob represented Ireland in the last camp with Josh Seary. Jacob is a left back who's been with us since U12s. He’s very similar to Josh but on the left-hand side, so he’s really good at getting forward. He’s got a real engine on him, bombs forward, connects with the wide players, gets into some really good positions and he's very good at putting balls into the box.”
Finlay Wallbank - Defender - DOB: 23/12/04
“Finlay has been with us all the way through the Academy. He’s a centre back or right back. He’s very good, I think he’s one of the quickest players in the team. He's decent on the ball but really his strengths are out of possession. He’s fantastic in 1v1 defending, winning his headers, and good at playing out from the back as well.”
Kian Taylor - Midfielder - DOB: 15/02/05
“KT is a massive PNE fan and an absolutely brilliant kid as well. He’s a number four or number eight midfielder. Really competitive, combative, gets stuck in there, wins second balls and breaks up play. When he does get on the ball he can pick a pass as well, but he brings similar energy to Noah really. In possession he can make forward passes and create attacks, but his strengths are the energy in midfield. He also has fantastic leadership skills, so I think he’ll be very good in and around the changing rooms this season.”
Finlay Cross-Adair - Forward - DOB: 11/01/05
“Fin came through the Academy too. FCA is a number nine, he does play at left and right midfield sometimes, but he’s really a number nine. He's very good at running in behind, very good with his back to goal as well. He’ll hold up play and connect the play really well. Obviously he can finish from the scoring zone as well, but his strength is definitely with his back to goal. He's fantastic at connecting the play and gets a really good hold of the defender.”
Kitt Nelson - Midfielder - DOB: 12/01/05
“Kitt again has been with us through the Academy. Kitt can play seven, ten or 11. He’s a very technical and creative player who’s good at finding little pockets of space, receiving in tight spaces and creating something off the back of it. He's a really exciting little player who will take players on."
James Pradic - Goalkeeper - DOB: 02/07/05
“James is a goalkeeper we got in from Charlton Athletic very late on in the season. He impressed us a lot in his trials in the U16s. We offered him a scholarship quite late on in the season and luckily he was really impressed with what he saw, really enjoyed the setup here and took it. He’s a fantastic 'keeper, really tall - he’s massive already. He’s very good with the ball at his feet, and he’s very good at being demanding in his box as well. He’s also been involved in the Welsh setup.”
Everyone at Preston North End sends their best wishes to all the scholars with their development at the club.
Make sure to follow @pnefcacademy on Twitter to keep up with all the latest updates from the PNE Academy.