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Oxford United youngsters handed pro contracts
OXFORD United’s squad for next season has started to take shape after decisions were made on six development squad players.
Matt Bevans, Sam Long, Josh Shama and Aidan Hawtin have been offered the chance to stay, while David Lynn and Kenzer Lee are now free agents.
The picture will become even clearer tomorrow, when Gary Waddock holds individual meetings with the senior squad to discuss their futures.
United’s head coach has been impressed with the enthusiasm of the young quartet, who are now considering the offers.
He said: “All four of them have done really well this season.
“They have an energy about them, they work hard at their game and they want to do well for the club.”
All four were part of the inaugural development squad, set up by the U’s last summer to provide a bridge between the youth and first teams.
It allowed Bevans, released by Watford a year ago, to make the step up and the full back has done well when called upon in the senior side.
The 20-year-old started 11 games, while Long, 19, from Bicester, has made six appearances at centre back.
Shama, 20, has yet to make his debut, but the forward was on the bench for Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Northampton Town.
Winger Hawtin, 18, has had his progress hindered by injuries, but, like Shama, has featured prominently in development games.
He tweeted: “Very happy to have been offered my first professional contract – bring on next season.”
If the four put pen to paper, it will give United 11 young professionals on their books, nine of whom have spent time in the club’s youth set-up.
Promoting young talent is key to chairman Ian Lenagan’s vision for the club. He said: “The development squad has done its job this season.
“The aim was to help four or five players progress into the first team squad and next season those players have the opportunity to stake a claim as first-team regulars.”
While there was joy for the four offered terms, today marked the end of the road for the other two hopefuls.
Lynn, a 19-year-old left back, made his only first-team appearance in the 1-0 win at Gateshead in December.
Lee, released by West Ham last year, was an unused substitute for the FA Cup first round replay, but leaves without making his senior debut.
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