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Youngsters Sign Professional Deals

Youth Team Trio Pen Contracts

22 May 2019

Sean Graham, Emil Jaaskelainen and Owen Watkinson have put pen-to-paper on professional contracts with the Seasiders.

The youth team trio, all 18, have signed initial one-year deals with the club, which include an option to extend by a further 12 months. 

Sean Graham, a left-sided player who has operated at wing-back this season, moved to the club from Northern Ireland two years ago and was shortlisted for the Youth Team's Player of the Season award earlier this month. He's also a Northern Ireland Under-19 international. 

Emil Jaaskelainen, son of former West Ham and Bolton Wanderers' keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, has provided a number of goals and assists as a striker for the youth team this season and also been away in youth training camps for Finland. 

Forward Owen Watkinson, meanwhile, was the youth team's top scorer this season and also spent some time out on loan with Bamber Bridge. He was also nominated for the Youth Team's Player of the Season accolade. 

"There's still a lot of development for the lads to go through, but we're delighted that they're getting this opportunity," Academy Manager Warren Green said. "It's our directive to get players into the first-team and Sean, Emil and Owen have come on massively in the last 12 months.

"Emil has really kicked on in his second year, as has Sean, who has come on leaps and bounds, especially in the last three months. The first-team really recognise that as well. 

"Owen wears his heart on his sleeve and there's potential there, which is why we loaned him out to Bamber Bridge, to monitor how he does against lads who are a little bit older.

"It's still a big gap making that step up to the first-team, but we'll continue to see how all three get on and look at further opportunities to get them more experience," he added. 

Youth Team Player of the Season Nathan Shaw, who was named on the first-team bench in 2018/19, has also been offered a professional contract. 

However, Will Avon, Sam Maddox, Brendan O'Brien, Harvey Simson and Tom Williams have all been released.  

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