AFC Fylde sign ex-Wigan keeper and hand professional contracts to five academy aces

AFC Fylde have signed a new goalkeeper, and five graduates from AFC Fylde’s Academy have agreed their first professional contracts with the club.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:45 pm

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The Coasters have signed keeper Bobby Jones and expect the teenager to push number one Chris Neal next season.

The 19-year-old, who worked with Fylde assistant boss Nick Chadwick over three years at Wigan, has signed a one-year-deal with the option of a further 12 months.

AFC Fylde's five academy graduates sign their first professional contracts at Mill Farm

Fylde manager Jim Bentley said: "Bobby is an exciting signing and somebody we feel has great potential.

“It helps that he has had some really positive loan spells at non-league clubs, Warrington and Farsley Celtic, so he knows what’s expected of him.”

Meanwhile, Maine Walder, Harry Jones, Harvey Gregson, Rhys Long and Owen Robinson all joined the first-team squad for the start of pre-season training this week after agreeing one-year deals.

They were all members of last season’s Under-18s side which won the North West Youth Alliance and reached the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, bowing out against Chelsea in the capital.

Under-18s captain Walder,18, is a versatile defender who has been at the club for four years.

Jones,17, and Gregson, 18, are tough-tackling midfielders, the latter winning the Luke Bennett Award as academy player of the season.

Robinson, 18, was last season’s top scorer and Long, 18, is another major threat in attack.

Academy Manager Chris Ganner said: “I am delighted that the club has shown its continued investment in the academy.

“These contracts give the lads an opportunity to continue their training for the next 12 months, while also gaining paid employment as coaches with the North West’s largest coaching company.

“This provides a back-up plan for the players to fall back on if they need it.

“We have a very talented Under-17s group, while our Under-16s have some extremely promising players who have joined us for next year. New I am confident that more of these boys will be inspired to follow in this year’s Under-18s’ footsteps.

“Our Junior teams have reached National Cup finals at under-11s and under-13s, while the under-12s fell just short in their Northern final last Saturday. The future is extremely bright for the academy, with so many talented players progressing.”

Fylde’s National League North fixtures are released on July 7.

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