Shrewsbury Town have today confirmed that youth team players Dom Smith, Callum Burton and Harry Lewis have agreed and signed professional contracts with the club. Harry has agreed a 3 year deal while Dom and Callum have signed 2 year deals.
Smith, 18, is a central defender and current Welsh U19 international. Burton, 17, is a goalkeeper and current England U18 international while Lewis 16, the grandson of Town legend Ken Mulhearn, also a goalkeeper has been involved with the England youth set up.
Dom and Callum are currently in the second year of their youth scholarship and Harry is set to join the club as a youth scholar this summer. The news that all three have agreed terms is a big boost to the club and its Youth Academy and coaches.
The introduction of the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Programme) has seen a number of clubs cut back on their youth development but Shrewsbury Town have achieved the Level 3 category for their Academy.
The club is committed to the long term development of the Academy and the young players at the club who have the potential of making it into the first team. With additional funding from the Football League, the Academy programme costs Shrewsbury Town £400,000 per annum.
Since moving on to the coaching staff at the club three and half years ago Mike Jackson has done a tremendous amount of work with the young players coming through the Academy. He has acted as a development coach which has been the bridge between the Academy and the first team so he knows the character and potential of the young players very well.
It's a major boost for the club after the vital win at Notts County last weekend and Mike is fulsome in his praise for the club’s stance on developing the youth programme. He says ”This shows that Shrewsbury Town Football Club are committed to investing in the youth and developing players.
“It shows that the Chairman and the board are continuing to progress the club for the long term. With the investment that the club is putting into the Academy it is essential that we continue to develop our own players.
“There is nothing better for fans than to see home grown players out there on the pitch who have come through our Academy.
“It is a credit to the lads themselves, their families and to the youth department who have provided these players an environment in which to develop, however this is just the start for these three players and the hard work starts now.
“If individually they continue to have the enthusiasm and commitment needed to be a professional football player then each has a chance to follow the likes of Joe Hart, Dave Edwards and Mason Springthorpe. There are many examples of young pros getting contracts and thinking they have made it, we as a coaching staff will not allow this to happen.”
Mike Jackson and the club are currently in talks with a number of the existing young pros at the club about new improved deals to keep them at Shrewsbury Town.
The news comes as a big boost to the club’s Academy whose staff have put in the hard work in to develop the youngsters. With Jon Taylor, Tom Bradshaw, Connor Goldson and Ryan Woods already in the first team this is now seven youngsters on pro contracts who have come through the Academy, Academy Manager Steve Reece believes this reflects well on the hard work being put in at youth level.
Steve proudly states “I’m delighted for the boys, it’s no coincidence that their positive attitude and desire to succeed in the game has culminated in them being offered professional terms with the football club.
“The success of the boys indicates that the club’s investment in the Academy has had a positive effect in producing players for our first team.
“The club now has seven young players on professional contracts who are products of the Academy programme.”