A pair of Bicester teenagers have signed contracts to stay at Oxford United next season, writes David Pritchard.
Sam Long, 19, and Aidan Hawtin, 18, have put pen to paper on one-year deals which include clauses for the club to extend them by an additional 12 months.
Long stepped up from the youth ranks last summer and made five appearances for the first team this season, including a first start in the 1-1 draw at Morecambe in February.
U’s head coach Gary Waddock felt the centre back’s performances had fully merited a new contract.
He said: “Fans have seen Sam in the first team already and he has real potential as well as a fantastic attitude.
“He deserves his chance to push on, keep working at his game and build on a highly promising first year as a professional with the club.”
For Hawtin, it was a first professional contract, which was a special moment.
Hawtin said: “As soon as they told me I knew straight away I was going to take it.
“It was a little bit of a surprise because of the change of manager and you have to impress the new manager.
“Thankfully I’ve done that and earned a contract.
“It feels amazing, it’s hard to explain, but it’s what I’ve dreamt of.”
The midfielder overcame two serious knee injuries while in the youth squad, and Waddock was full of praise for the way Hawtin has bounced back.
He said: “He’s had a difficult spell here but has a fantastic attitude.
“We’ve given him an opportunity to continue with his career and with the attitude he’s got he gives himself a hell of a chance of progressing.”