A group of eight players reported for duty at Oxford United yesterday to begin their next step towards becoming professionals.
The scholars will be part of the youth team for two years and will attempt to emulate the likes of Josh Ashby and James Roberts, who graduated to the senior squad this summer.
They include five players from United’s under 16 side – centre back Cian McCormack, midfielders Seth Humph-ries and Kieran Andrews, plus forwards George Jeacock and Luke Hastings.
Defender Drew Ricketts has joined from Walsall.
Meanwhile, right back Miles Welch-Hayes and Lewis Hayden, a midfielder, earned the chance after impressing for United’s academy side.
The club’s youth team coach, Chris Allen, said: “It’s an exciting day for all of them.
“They are within touching distance of being professional footballers, but now they have to work harder than ever before to impress us over the next two years.
“It’s about ability and desire, but also about attitude, intelligence and having that bit of self-belief to push on.”