Blues youngsters offered pro deals

Jack Maloney is among the five Academy graduates who have have been offered first-year professional terms by Pompey Picture: Joe Pepler
Jack Maloney is among the five Academy graduates who have have been offered first-year professional terms by Pompey Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey have offered first-year professional deals to five of their league title-winning Academy side.

But Alex Grant, who spent time on loan at the Hawks this season, has been released.

Youth prospects George Branford, Nick Awford, Jack Maloney, Liam Triggs and Josh Warren have been presented with pro contracts after graduating.

Awford and Maloney both featured for the first-team this term, while central defender Warren had a spell on loan at Bognor.

Midfielder Branford and full-back Triggs complete the quintet who aim to maintain the impressive Academy production line in recent years.

All were key components of the side that captured the Youth Alliance Under-18 South-East League on the last day of the season.

The Blues are now waiting for the youngsters to put pen-to-paper on their deals.

In addition, Kane Cook has had his Academy contract extended. The midfielder has twice dislocated his shoulder over the past 18 months, restricting his appearances.

However, Pompey have been given special approval by the Football League to field him as an over-age player next term.

That will grant the Blues more time to judge whether he will join his team-mates in being promoted to the development group and then potentially earn a first-team contract.

Grant, though, has not been retained, despite an encouraging loan spell with the Hawks.

The youngster, who can play at either left-back or centre-half, moved to Westleigh Park in January, making 18 appearances and scoring once.

However, there is plenty of competition among the youth ranks in both his favoured positions and, as a result, he has not been offered a new deal.

The future of fellow Academy product Elliot Wheeler is still being assessed by Pompey.

The right-back had an injury-hampered campaign, starting with a car crash which left him with serious arm injuries.

He later spent three months on loan at Bashley, although that too was affected by injury.

Other members of this season’s development group, George Colson and Dan Thompson, were informed they were not being retained before the end of the season.

Thompson finished the campaign playing for Bognor, while Colson had spells at Bashley and Dorchester.

James Hartson was released from the Academy earlier this year.