Mansfield Town today rewarded three of their youth team products with contracts.
Midfielder Jack Thomas (18), who has been outstanding in the Stags’ first team over the past month, has had his current deal extended beyond this season for another two years.
Fellow midfielder Joe Fitzpatrick (17), who had a taste of first team action in the second half at Morecambe, and 6ft 4ins centre half Corbin Shires (17), yet to make his debut, have both been handed their first professional contracts until the end of next season.
Manager Adam Murray has high hopes for all three and knows that having homegrown players in the side is good for the team and the supporters.
“You look into their eyes and you can see that they care,” he said. “I am not saying experienced players don’t, but the honesty and enthusiasm these youngsters have, put together with talent makes a nice product to have.”
Thomas has hit the ground running and been instrumental in Stags’ recent revival, Murray saying: “Jack has been excellent – not great. That’s too strong a word. But he will be great. He has done exactly what I knew he would do.
“Now, it’s about us looking after him and making sure we get the best of him at the right time.
“The big thing is to keep him focused. We will work with him technically and physically.
“The good thing is I have been through exactly what he is going through and I have seen the wrong side of it. I will be strict with him but fair and he will be a great asset for this football club.2
So does the manage see a young Adam Murray in the making?
“I hope not or he would be trouble,” he smiled. “He’s got more about him than I had about me and he can do both sides of the game.
“I only learned to do the ugly side as I dropped down the leagues which you have to do to survive as a player.”
Thomas has made an impact in more ways then one with four yellow cards in his first five games.
“It’s just enthusiasm at the moment and him wanting to go that extra yard, so I won’t question him for that. He is getting stuck in,” said Murray.
On the other two, he added: “Corbin has the potential to be a complete centre half. He is 9ft 7ins with the feet of a wizard.
“He can play and is nor scared of the ball. But he can defend as well.
“He is only a baby and part of the future of this football club. As soon as the situation dictates, I want to get him in as quickly as I can once the environment is right.
“Joe loves the ball and is technically outstanding. I would put him, potentially, in the same bracket as Chris Clements. He is learning the physical side of the game now and he really excites me.”
Murray added: “Boys like this need the backing and security of support from the fans, even when they are having a bad game.
“We have still got Liam Marsden here too, who people have probably forgotten about but is part of my plans. He comes into my group of babies and will get his chance again.”
The deals will be completed subject to Football League clearance.