Mansfield Town are delighted to announce that six youth team players have today signed professional development contracts.
Goalkeeper Sam Wilson, defenders Teddy Bloor, Kieran Harrison and Kane Baldwin along with midfielders Cameron Healey and Alastair Smith signed on the dotted line at One Call Stadium this afternoon in the presence of chairman John Radford and youth directors Mark Hawkins and Steve Hymas.
The news caps a hugely successful season for the Stags’ youngsters, led by academy manager John Dempster, who in April were crowned as champions of the EFL Youth Alliance for the second consecutive season.
The new deals will enable the players to improve their development in the U21s.
Manager Steve Evans said: “These youngsters are at a very early stage in their journeys in the football world and they will be given every opportunity to develop further under the guidance of Mike Whitlow and his excellent coaching staff at Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire.”
Goalkeeper Sam Wilson has been our under 18s' number one goalkeeper for much of the last two seasons.
After dislocating his elbow midway through last season, Wilson returned in the second half of the season and played a pivotal role in the youth team's EFL Youth Alliance title-winning campaign.
Following his return, Stags extended their unbeaten run to 10 games, of which Wilson played in six, and made a number of outstanding saves as John Dempster's side held their nerve to win the title.
Set piece specialist Teddy Bloor made a string of excellent performances in 2016-17.
Primarily a right-back, Bloor can operate at right wing-back or right midfield and his delivery from wide areas has regularly led to goals for the Stags' under 18s.
In November 2015, Bloor won LFE's Goal of the Month for a sensational free-kick against Burton Albion.
Defender Kieran Harrison is a no-nonsense centre-half who puts his body on the line for the cause.
The 18-year-old has been a stand-out performer for John Dempster's men, especially in the 2016/17 campaign, helping to keep goals out at one end whilst being a constant threat from set pieces at the other.
In addition to playing for the under 18s, Harrison has played a number of times for the club's under 21s in the Central League, often being deployed amongst a string of first team players.
Classy defender Kane Baldwin is a ball-playing centre-half who can read the game exceptionally well.
His positional sense is second-to-none and he can intelligently choose when to clear the danger and when to play the ball out of defence.
A pacy stopper who often snuffs out the danger when frontmen get in behind the Stags' defence, the 18-year-old is comfortable playing in a back three or four.
Ball-playing midfielder Cameron Healey has enjoyed an excellent 2016-17 season, which was capped by winning the Academy Player of the Year award.
Healey has been widely-regarded as our under 18s' most consistent player throughout their EFL Youth Alliance title-winning campaign, bringing both determined tackling and quality passing to the midfield.
As well as captaining the Stags' youth team for much of the season, Healey has often played for the club's under 21s side and has been named on the bench for the first team in recent months.
Tricky attacking midfielder Alistair Smith has enjoyed a brilliant season with the Stags' under 18s, showing huge improvement throughout the season.
Smith, 18, became a regular face in John Dempster's side and made 'the number 10' position his own with a string of eye-catching displays.
He provides a brilliant link between the midfield and strike-force and his calmness on the ball in attacking areas is something to be admired.