Richards, Sims and Williams Sign Contracts
Youth team trio Caleb Richards, Jack Sims and Denzel Williams have agreed their first professional contracts with the club.
The deals, which run until the end of the 2018 season and include options to extend by a further 12 months, come on the back of some impressive performances for the under-18s, with Ciaran Donnelly's side sitting top of the North West Youth Alliance table and in the final of the LFA Media Professional Youth Cup.
"I'm delighted for them, it's very much deserved," Academy Manager Ciaran Donnelly said of the news. "The under-18s as a whole have had a very good season and these boys have been a core part of that. They've all played a lot of games this season and performed really well throughout.
"We're really looking forward to seeing how they do and seeing if they can make the transition from youth team football to first-team football and go on to have careers in the game.
"Each one offers something different to this football club that the fans can get on board with, and be excited about what's coming through in the academy."
Youth team captain and left-back Caleb Richards, 18, had a taste of first-team football in pre-season and is determined to make the most of his opportunity moving forward.
"I'm really happy to have been given a professional contract and I think now this is the starting step where I've got to push on even harder. You've not made it now, it's just the start."
Goalkeeper Jack Sims, born in Southend, has trained alongside the first-team goalkeepers at stages this season and will now aim to develop further.
"Training with the players helps a lot because you get used to the pace of the ball and I'm looking forward to next season now," said the 17-year-old, who celebrates his birthday next month.
Denzel Williams, 18, was praised by Ciaran Donnelly for playing through the pain barrier in the youth team's 2-0 victory over Accrington Stanley on the weekend. The centre-back is keen to grasp his opportunity to impress.
"I've waited for this opportunity since I was a young boy and now I've got it I just want to put my head down and kick on," he admitted.
In the meantime, supporters can catch a glimpse of the players in action by watching them in the LFA Media Professional Youth Cup final against Bury on Tuesday 25 April. The fixture, to be played at Gigg Lane, kicks off at 7pm and admission is priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.