After speaking to Academy Manager Mike Whitlow last week, I caught up with Neill Hornby, first team coach about the three youngsters that have signed new deals. Sam Austin, Mark Shelton and Sam Hornby have all progressed through the Burton Albion academy system and have earned their first professional contracts with the club earlier on this month.
“It’s absolutely brilliant.” Said Neill Hornby. He added “The three of them have all worked extremely hard and they deserve full credit for what they have achieved.”
The new professionals haven’t featured for the first-team this season so the Brewers fans won’t know much about them. Neill Hornby has worked with all three players at academy level before he joined the first-team in November.
“Mark Shelton is a midfield player or a right back.
“He is probably one of the fittest in the youth team and has fantastic technical ability.
“That sums Mark up really.
“He has got a long way to go but he has got so much potential it is unbelievable.”
Sam Austin played parts in pre-season friendlies and he has spent time on a work experience loan at Rushall Olympic this season.
“Sam Austin can play wide right or wide left.
“He can play in the number ten role as well.
“Sam is a tricky winger, an old fashioned type of winger.
“He can play with his right foot or left foot but again he has got all the attributes to make a good career.
“The platform is there for him.”
Sam Hornby has been training with the first-team since December and has made brilliant progression ever since.
“Sam Hornby is a goalkeeper.
“Sam was with us as an under 16 but he didn’t get a scholarship.
“He went away, went to college, came back and played a part in the youth team.
“Since January he has been training with the first team full-time.
“Since then the first-team manager and Gavin Ward saw some potential in him and offered him a professional contract.”
With professional deals signed, it is now down to all three youngsters to kick on and make good impressions on the first-team management staff in order to pick up appearances for Burton Albion.
“All three of them have got the potential to make good careers.
“All we have done by giving them a professional contract is give them a platform.
“It is up to them now to move on and do great.
“I’m sure all three of them will grasp it with both hands.”