Wigan Athletic offer professional contracts to six Academy scholars.
- Six Academy scholars to be offered pro contracts.
- "Pro contracts are reward for outstanding season." – Gregor Rioch.
- "We have an outstanding crop of young players." – Gregor Rioch.
Strikers Sam Cosgrove and Louis Robles, Defenders Liam Langford and Adam Anson, Midfielder Adrian Purzycki and goalkeeper Owen Evans will all join the Wigan Athletic Development Squad.
Peter Atherton’s Under 18s have had another outstanding season, still with a chance of clinching the Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division, where they are unbeaten since September, a run of 19 games. They have also qualified for the Northern Final of the Football League Youth Alliance Cup versus Oldham Athletic and the Final of Lancashire FA Youth Cup versus Tranmere Rovers, scoring 70 goals in 32 games in all competitions this season.
Academy Manager Gregor Rioch is delighted to be confirming the news:
“This is always such an exciting time, because these lads can be the future of the football club. We have made huge strides over the past seasons and the current crop have set such high standards.
“I want to congratulate each and every one of them for their outstanding commitment during their time at the club, they have all shown the desire and talent we look for at Wigan Athletic and I am really so pleased for them.
“They now have an outstanding opportunity to make that next step in their career.”
Rioch also had this to say about the players whom the club have decided not to offer contracts to.
“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 make decisions based on whether or not we felt the players would progress quickly enough and as ever there were some long conversations between myself and the coaching staff.
“We will do everything we can as a club to help the released lads, whether that’s to another club or move into whichever field they choose to go. Every one of our scholars will have improved during the two years his time at the club and it is up to the individual to hopefully find themselves a new direction and we have a duty of care to help wherever we can.”
THE NEW PROFESSIONALS IN DETAIL
Born: Liverpool - 04/02/1997
U18s Apps: 27, 4 goals
Development Squad Apps: 5
Joined from Liverpool as a 16-year-old and has combined roles as a centre-half and a striker, with the ability to perform in both roles.
Gregor Rioch said: “Adam was a striker in his early days at Blackburn, then Liverpool and although we view him mostly as a defender, his physical development has come at a crucial time and helped him add a lot of consistency to his game, which in turn has helped him mature off the field.”
Born: Beverley - 02/12/1996
U18 Apps: 18, 19 goals
Development Squad Apps: 6
Powerful striker who has been involved in a five first team squads this season and been prolific in front of goal. Signed as a 16-year-old from Everton.
Gregor Rioch says: “It’s been a fantastic season for Sam who has combined his scholarship with A Levels. He has a great attitude and willingness to learn, and has been knocking on the door of the first team, never mind the Development Squad.”
Born: Newbridge, Gwent - 28/11/1996
U18 Apps: 23
Development Squad Apps: 2
Wales U19 Caps: 4
Highly rated goalkeeper who joined from Hereford United after the demise of their youth system, and has gone on to represent Wales the UEFA U19 Championship qualifiers. Actually scored winning penalty in cup semi-final against Carlisle United.
Gregor Rioch says: “Owen has been terrific for us and as well as keeping numerous clean sheets, he has benefited from being able to train with the first team keepers under Mike Pollitt. A huge honour for him and for us for him to represent his country.”
Born: Liverpool - 11/09/96
U18 Apps: 28, 23 goals
Development Squad Apps: 11 (9 as sub), 1 goal
U18s captain and striker whose form in front of goal has seen him named three times on the first team bench this season. Signed as a 16-year-old from Liverpool.
Named in the League Football Education’s October XI for his performances on and off the field.
Gregor Rioch: “He creates and scores goals, he’s been a leader on and off the field, a superb character who has worked so hard and has been rewarded for his efforts.”
Born: Liverpool - 10/12/1996
U18 Apps: 14, 1 goal
Development Squad Apps: 5
Signed from Blackburn Rovers at the start of the season, it has been a whirlwind few months for the defender who has combined roles as a left back or left-sided centre back and been equally comfortable in both.
Was formerly at Liverpool with Louis Robles and Adam Anson.
Gregor Rioch says: “David Lowe recommended him to us when Blackburn knew he would not be kept on there and Liam has been a revelation, not letting the potential disappointment affect him – an example to any youngster to keep believing and working hard.”
Born: Siedlce, Poland - 02/08/1997
U18 Apps: 25, 3 goals
Development Squad Apps: 4
Poland Under 18 Caps: 6
Polish Under 18 international midfielder raised in Bedford and Swansea and joining Latics from the Swans’ Academy as a 16-year-old. Made his you international debut for Poland against England last year.
Gregor Rioch says: “Great lad with a fantastic attitude, ever-present when available and has added the physical side to his game alongside his tactical and technical awareness, which were never in doubt. He will gain further international experience in the summer in the European Championships, which will only benefit the club.”