Newport County have handed professional contracts to three of their academy players, with Ryan Hillier, Lewys Twamley and Joe Woodiwiss all extending their stays at Rodney Parade.
The Sky Bet League Two used more current apprentices in the first team than any other EFL club during the 2020/21 season, giving senior action to eight youth players, including all three of their new professionals.
Striker Hillier was the first of the trio to appear for the first team and has amassed six appearances in total in the Papa John’s Trophy, with his most notable contribution coming on debut when he scored against West Ham United Under-21s as a first-year apprentice in September 2019.
Woodiwiss also earned his senior bow two seasons ago, playing from the start in a 7-4 victory over Cheltenham Town, while the defender has since enjoyed four further outings in the competition.
Meanwhile, Wales Under-18 international Twamley’s first involvement at the professional level came last season, coming off the bench in the Papa John’s Trophy in September before starting in the next two group games against Norwich City Under-23s and Plymouth Argyle.
Woodiwiss told the club website: “It still hasn’t sunk in properly because it’s a massive achievement for me, but I’ve got to keep working hard now and see what next season brings. My dad told me that I’m living his dream, so I’m glad that I’m making my parents proud.
“I’ve been lucky to have a taste of what it’s like in the first team with the cup games that I’ve played in, and I knew as soon as I first stepped on the pitch this is what I wanted to do.”
Twamley said: “I can’t really sum up what this means because it’s a day that I’ve wanted since I was a little boy. It’s good to see all the hard work that I’ve put in is paying off, and I want to thank all the coaches and everyone who has helped me get here.
“It’s a proud moment for everyone in my family and it’s a real achievement for me. The manager has given loads of opportunities to younger players, so I’m thankful to him and I’m looking forward to next season now.”
Hillier added: “After growing up in Newport and coming to all the games as a season ticket holder, it’s a dream come true for me. I managed to play in the first team when I was a scholar and it was a surreal experience.
“It’s been a long two years leading up to this and my parents have supported me all the way through it, so it’s nice to see how happy they are for me now.”
Academy Manager Damien Broad said: “This is a huge achievement for everybody involved at the academy and club. Signing Ryan, Lewys and Joe from our own academy shows the club’s commitment to identify, retain and develop from within. We are all delighted for the lads and it’s great to see their efforts now being rewarded.”