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Central defender Bobby Thomas, who has recently stepped up into the under-23s, has been rewarded with a two year professional deal from next season while two other players, Will Harris and Kai Calderbank-Park, have had their scholarships extended.

Two year deal for Bobby Thomas

Two year deal for Bobby Thomas

With regular under-23 defenders having suffered injuries, Thomas has stepped up and impressed coach Steve Stone with his performances. Back in January, Stone said of him: “I’ve liked what he’s about since I’ve come in here and that’s why he’s in my team. I want him around this team until the end of the season so, when hopefully he’s here next season, if given a contract and all goes well, he’s got an understanding of what the under-23s are like.”

He’s been a regular in the team since and the club have confirmed today that he will sign a two year professional deal.

Striker Will Harris and goalkeeper Kai Calderbank-Park will also be staying. Harris has been offered a third year scholarship while Calderbank-Park, because of injuries, has seen his scholarship extended.

Speaking about the three players, academy manager Jon Pepper said: “Bobby has been a feature for the under-23s and the fact that he has made that step quite smoothly has been integral to that decision and we look forward to seeing him develop further.

“Will has shown a lot of resilience. He didn’t play a lot in his first year and might have thought he wasn’t going to feature, but he has really kicked on and this is another year to see if he continues the progress he has made in the last four months or so.

“Kai has been injured but has been out at Padiham, playing with men, and another year will see him develop and see if he can get a bit closer to earning a place in the under-23s and a first professional contract.”

At this time, there is always the not so good news for the players who will be leaving us and this season it is eight players, led by captain and leading goalscorer Michael Fowler. Alongside him, all of Ethan Kershaw, Dylon Meredith, Dan Moss, Terry Mupariwa, Richard Taylor, Oscar Woods and Kian Yari are all leaving.

Pepper explained: “Decisions with this group have been very difficult, but as the academy progresses and the club continues to sustain Premier League status, the benchmark of the type of player we try to produce is raised each year.

“The way they have applied themselves, I’m sure a number of them will get a career, at some level, within the game and a number of clubs are aware, when they do get released, they will have certain assets they will be looking for.

“The attitude and application of the whole group has been outstanding. They can hold their heads up high, be proud of what they have done over the two years and leave the building over the summer with no regrets, because each individual has put everything into the programme, football wise and academically.

“Hopefully it’s been a good step in the right direction for their football careers or careers outside the game and their two year scholarship has been a positive aspect in their lives.”

We, at Up the Clarets, wouldd like to congratulate the three players who will be staying with us and just as importantly we would like to wish those who are leaving the very best with the hopes that they find new clubs.

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