Scunthorpe United have offered current second year apprentices, Jamie Wootton, Luke Hornsey and George Grayson one-year deals for next term.
All three have been influential members of the Iron’s U18 side that sits third in the Eastern Conference of the Football League’s Youth Alliance.
The challenging economic landscape faced by all clubs outside the top two divisions means that the development of young players has never been more critical but Head of Youth Tony Daws believes that a flourishing youth set-up could help alleviate some of those worries.
“These are difficult times for the football club and so developing our own players is going to become more and more important,” Daws told the Scunthorpe Telegraph. “For us it’s fallen into pretty much a purple patch at the moment.”
“We’ve always had good players coming through, but I think what people have found difficult to understand is when we were in the Championship, my job was almost impossible.”
“Trying to get boys through into a Championship side – and let’s be right, we struggled to stay in the Championship – was very, very difficult.”
Forward Wootton is the only one of the trio to have made his Iron debut after featuring as a late substitute in the Iron’s 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth in December.
Hornsey, a midfielder, has made the first-team bench on several occasions this season but left full-back Grayson has yet to be involved with the senior squad.
However, Daws insists that Grayson has done enough to be given the chance to prove himself as a professional.
“He can almost be like a winger for you when he’s got the ball,” he said.“Over the last three months he’s made terrific progress – probably more than any of the other apprentices – and he’s got an excellent attitude.”
“With the performances he was putting in, we felt he was worth the extra opportunity to continue developing.”
While welcoming the three players into the professional ranks has been a ‘delight’, Daws has also had to tell the rest of his current crop of second years that they were being released.
The six leaving Glanford Park are Josh Lacey, Charlie Megson, Lewis Trice, Danny Waring and Fabio Snow.
“That’s the worst part it’s a very difficult day emotionally for me because you’re effectively almost ending some boys’ careers,” added Daws. “They and I both hope they’ll get an opportunity elsewhere, but it’s very, very difficult to get back in.”
“When you look at the boys you’re offering terms too, you want to be calm and measured because you don’t want to upset the ones who are being released.”