Wigan Athletic offer extended professional contracts to three Development Squad Players, six are released.
- Three Development Squad players offered new contracts, six players are released.
- “Contracts are reward for outstanding season” – Wigan Athletic Academy Manager Gregor Rioch.
- “There have been some really tough decisions” – Wigan Athletic Development Squad Coach Joe Parkinson.
Forwards Jordan Flores, Matty Hamilton and Ryan Jennings have all earned themselves the contracts after impressing over the past 12 months and more. Wigan Athletic Academy Manager Gregor Rioch says they have been rewarded for all their hard work and dedication.
The Development Squad have had an outstanding season. They are currently top of the Final Third Development League West, but are waiting on Port Vale’s final game of the season against Shrewsbury Town to see if they can retain their crown from last season. Later this month Latics will travel to Vale in the Final Third Development League Cup semi-final, with the aim of going on to win the competition for the second season in a row.
“All three have really kicked on this season,” Rioch said, “they played very well for the Development Squad, listened to the advice given to them by the coaches and had opportunities to train with the first team and have been in the squad at some stage.
“There are no guarantees of course, but we believe they all have the potential to take that next step and break into the first team picture, which will be the ultimate aim. They need to keep working hard to develop and I want to personally congratulate all three for what has been an outstanding season.”
“These players can be the future of the football club and if they carry on meeting the high standards we set, they have a chance.”
On the flip side, Rioch and his staff have also had to make decisions regarding other players, and the club can confirm that the following will not be offered new contracts: Mayowa Balogun, Tim Chow, Connor Keane, Joey Johnson, Declan Poole and Michael Wilson.
Rioch says: “The decision whether or not to offer contracts is really so difficult, but the game of football is filled with big name professionals who, for whatever reason, have been released at some point in their career.
“We had to choose based on whether or not we felt the players would be able to progress into the first team – that has to be the barometer. All these lads have given us their hearts and souls but we stress to them that this is not the end of the road, that they must now use the training and experiences they have had here to seek first team football at whatever level they can.
“We will do everything we can as a club to help them into the next step of their career, we have a duty of care to help them, but as with the Under 18s earlier this week, it is up to the individual to try and get over the disappointment in the short term and move on.”
THE PROFESSIONALS IN DETAIL
Born: Wigan - 04/10/1995
Dev Squad Apps: 19, 4 goals
Wigan boy who re-joined the club at the age of 15 having initially been a Centre of Excellence player. Left-sided forward who has impressed immensely this season and been involved in the first team match day squad. Still an East Stand season ticket holder.
Joe Parkinson said: “Jordan has progressed so much this year and the exciting thing about him is that he is still maturing physically. Can play wide or in a more central role and we hope he can continue to develop because he is an exciting prospect. He’s a local lad who really has the club in his heart and it will mean so much to him and to us if he can keep on developing as we hope he will.”
See one of Jordan's Development Squad goals below as he grabbed the winner in the Lancashire FA Cup against Bolton Wanderers.
Born: Liverpool - 20/11/1995
Dev Squad Apps: 17, 6 goals
Republic of Ireland Under 21 Caps: 2
Forward with a real eye for goal who has earned a call up for the Ireland Under 21s this season and continued to impress at Development Squad Level. Signed as a 16 year old from Everton. Last year’s winner of the Michael Millett Award as Under 18s Player of the Year.
Joe Parkinson says: “Matty has had another outstanding season and continued to push on, as we expected and hoped he would. He can play central or on either wing and has developed physically to go alongside his undoubted technical ability. Great attitude and a pleasure to have around the place.”
Born: Stockport - 08/07/1995
Dev Squad Apps: 14, 8 goals
Exciting winger who started a loan spell at Accrington Stanley last week and will hope to get some first team experience before the end of the season. Featured in pre-season for the Latics first team and has continued to progress at Development Squad level during the season.
Joe Parkinson says: “On his day, Ryan can change a game with a drop of the shoulder and a trick. He’s exciting, likes to take defenders on and has the potential to be one of those players who can get people to their feet. Needs to keep progressing but again, like the others, he has that opportunity to do so with us now.”