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Seven players sign first pro deals with Reading

Youngsters step up to U23 squad

2 July 2018

We are delighted to announce that seven of our fledgling young footballers have signed their first professional contracts with Reading Football Club, and will move up to our Under-23 squad in the coming season.

Jamal Balogun, Andre Burley, Cameron Green, Adam Liddle, Akinwale Odimayo, Moroyin Omolabi and Jazz Wallace and have all put pen to paper on deals with the Royals and have linked up with Scott Marshall’s side ahead of the new campaign.

Defensive quartet Balogun, Burley, Green and Odimayo are already familiar with U23 football – each of them earned minutes in Premier League 2 last season, despite all still being Under-18 players.  Like Wallace, they were all regular contributors to our U18s throughout the 2017/18 campaign too.

Centre-half Odimayo even came off the bench to notch a Madejski Stadium goal, striking the Royals’ first in a 2-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion in January!

Midfielder Omolabi joined our U18 side in January, having previously been on the books at Tottenham, while striker Liddle linked up with Reading in March and scored twice in his four appearances at the end of the campaign.

The ambition now, of course, is for the youngsters to try and establish themselves in the Under-23 side and eventually push for a first-team place – in March, Tom Holmes became the 47th player to progress from our Academy to represent our senior side.

Academy Manager Ged Roddy said: “Many congratulations to all of the players who have signed their first professional contracts at Reading – this is where the hard work starts!  It is just the start of a new and exciting journey and if they continue to apply themselves and fulfil their potential, this club will offer them the chance to have a successful career in the game.

“Last season, six more graduates of our Academy made their first-team debuts, which provides inspiration and incentive to this talented group of players.  Because of the foundations laid out over many years by Eamonn Dolan, there is a clear pathway from our Academy to a fruitful career in professional football and now it is up to these players to take that opportunity to the best of their ability.”

Exciting times ahead for all of the youngsters – the Premier League 2 fixtures are scheduled to be released later this month, and we will also soon be able to bring you news of the cup competitions which they will be entering in 2018/19.

And Scott Marshall’s Under-23 side begin their pre-season games programme next Saturday with a trip to Twerton Park to face Bath City – click here to view their full pre-season fixture schedule.

Goalkeeper Luke Southwood has penned a new two-year contract with Reading FC, keeping him on the books at Madejski Stadium until the summer of 2020.

Off the back of his involvement with England’s Under-20 World Cup-winning squad, the stopper spent the bulk of last season out on loan with Bath City, helping the Romans to a ninth-place finish in the National League South. 

A remarkable 18 clean sheets for the ‘keeper saw him take home a number of awards at the end-of-season presentations.

After returning from Twerton Park, Southwood rejoined the Royals at the back-end of the season and featured in our Premier League 2 play-off fixture, which ended in a gallant defeat at the hands of Aston Villa at Villa Park. 

Fellow Academy-graduate goalkeeper Lewis Ward also recently penned a new two-year contract with Reading, as did striker Andrija Novakovich ahead of his loan switch to Fortuna Sittard.

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