Four Cambridge United apprentices have penned their first professional contracts to commit their immediate futures to the club.
The U’s have tied up Finley Iron, Sam Squire and Lee Watkins on one-year deals, while Jordan Norville-Williams has agreed a two-year stay at the Abbey Stadium.
Cambridge Head of Football Ben Strang told the club website: “This is a great achievement for all four players concerned. This follows the model of the football club, investing in our academy players and providing further developmental opportunities to a talented group of players.
“Through the continuity of their time at the club they understand and adopt our culture and values. Whilst a notable feat for them, they are all aware that this is purely their next step and that they must continue to work incredibly hard to realise their future ambitions.”
Assistant Head Coach Mark Bonner worked with the quartet during his spell as Academy manager. He said: “This is reflective of everything the Academy should be about. In three of these players we see locally born youngsters developing on and off the field from their first steps into football to now, and through our continual recruitment process in Jordan’s case, joining us from Arsenal.
“The combination of excellence in recruitment and development is a pivotal aim of our Academy. In all four cases we have signed good characters and players who are continually developing. They must now return to pre-season in magnificent condition and relish the challenges and opportunities that senior football brings.
“We look forward to seeing how all four players continue to progress and embrace the challenge alongside a small group of other young professionals, and will work to ensure each individual is catered for in their training and games programme to support them as they strive to maximise their potential.”
Meanwhile, Stevan Shaw and Prince Mutswunguma, who features in the latest LFE Goal of the Month competition, will leave the club once they complete their apprenticeships. Bonner added: “Prince and Stevan leave us, but have our ongoing support through their transition into the next chapter of their lives.
“Having progressed throughout the age groups, they too are embedded in the club, and will leave having had some wonderful experiences.
“We are proud of how they have both developed as players and young men and wish them the very best in their futures.”