Fitzpatrick and Shires sign until end of next season - Thomas pens deal until June 2017 - Adam Murray continues to nurture youth
Manager Adam Murray has signalled his intentions at developing young players at the club with Joe Fitzpatrick and Corbin Shires both signing professional deals until the end of next season, whilst Jack Thomas has also agreed terms until the end of the 2016/17 campaign.
Thomas, 18, has progressed through our youth system, where he was captain, and featured in our last five matches in Sky Bet League Two – collecting two Man of the Match awards for his efforts.
Fitzpatrick, 17, a highly-gifted technical player, has impressed at youth level throughout this season and recently made his professional debut in our away match at Morecambe.
Shires, 17, who stands at a towering 6ft 4in, has recently spent time on loan at Evo-Stik Division One (South) outfit Carlton Town and was on the score-sheet for the Millers in a recent win at Kidsgrove Athletic.
Speaking about the players individually ahead of Saturday’s game at Cheltenham Town, our boss was full of praise.
On Thomas, he said: “Jack has been excellent since he’s come in and has done exactly what I knew he would do. It’s about us now looking after him and getting the best out of him at the right time.
“The work, physically and technically, will go into him and he’ll improve in that aspect, but the biggest thing will be to keep him focussed.
“I’ve been where Jack is now and probably seen the wrong side of things, as well as the good side, so I’ll manage him in my way and I’ll get the best out of him as I see it. I’ll be strict with him, but at the same time I’ll be fair, and he’ll be a great asset for the football club.”
Regarding Fitzpatrick, our boss continued: “He loves the ball and is technically outstanding. I put him in the same bracket as Chris Clements, potentially.
“We’re now getting into him the other side of the game – the physical side – and what you have to do without the ball. Joe really excites me.”
On Shires, Murray added: “I think he’s got the potential to be a complete centre-half - he’s tall and he’s got the feet of a wizard.
“When you’ve got those two ingredients for a centre-back, it’s brilliant. He can play, he’s not scared of the ball and he can defend well.
“He’s only 'a baby' and he’s a part of the future of this football club. He’s a part of the base that I want to evolve at this club and is one of a number [of players] that I’m really pleased with.”
The deals will be complete, subject to Football League clearance.