September 26th, 2016

Academy graduates challenged to fight for a place after signing professional deals with Sky Blues

Updated: 5:28 pm, Jun 01, 2016

YOUNGSTERS Dion Kelly-Evans, Devon Kelly-Evans and Kyle Spence have been challenged to contest for a play in the Sky Blues first team after agreeing one-year contracts for the 2016/17 season.

The Under-21 trio will remain at the Ricoh Arena for a further year after progressing for the club’s development side, which saw them play a bit part as Lee Glover’s side went on a five-game unbeaten run since February, which included four wins.

Defender Dion Kelly-Evans capped off a season to remember by making his senior debut in t he 2-0 win at Oldham Athletic on the final day of the season after coming on as a half-time substitute for Andy Rose.

“Dion was rewarded for his efforts throughout the year with his senior debut but he needs to come into pre-season ready to challenge and push the players ahead of him,” said City boss Tony Mowbray.

“And that also goes for Devon and Kyle, who also need to work on adding goals to their game. They’ve both got a number of fantastic qualities but I really want to see them work hard on that aspect of their game throughout the next year.

“I was impressed with some of the Under-21s’ performances towards the end of last season and to go on a five-match unbeaten run to end the season shows the determination to succeed from the group.

“Dion, Devon and Kyle have been consistent performers for the Under-21s and have shown over the year that they have the potential to progress into first-team footballers for the club. It’s important that they continue to work hard though.”

Five players looking to follow in their footsteps are goalkeeper Corey Addai, defenders Darragh Leahy and Jacob Whitmore and midfielders Jordan Shipley and Callum Maycock who have all put pen-to-paper on their first professional deals after coming through the club’s academy.

Leahy, Addai, Maycock and Shipley have all accepted two year deals with a one year option in the club’s favour, while Whitmore has accepted a year-long contract with a one year option.

All five have impressed during the past two seasons, notably in this season’s FA Youth Cup campaign, and have already established themselves within the Under-21s setup.

Academy Manager Richard Stevens has praised the application and hard work of the group to earn their first professional contracts.

“It’s a great moment for us as an Academy to see five scholars accept professional contracts with the football club,” Stevens added.

“It shows the huge amount of confidence the first-team management staff have in the work we do at the Academy and the players we’re currently producing.

“The Academy have a great track record of providing a pathway in to the first-team setup and the likes of Cian Harries and Dion Kelly-Evans making their senior team debuts on the final day of the season is testament to that.

“It is also a great show of faith from the club that four of the five players have been offered two year deals, which will give them time to develop under the guidance of the senior coaching staff.

“This is a talented group and they have a great work ethic – there is no reason that with continued development why they will not impact upon the first-team in the not-too-distant future.”

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