Leam hails Wigan Athletic Academy after defender departure
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Latics will receive an undisclosed fee for the 21-year-old Isle of Man native, who made 23 first-team appearances after joining Latics' Under-18s in 2017.
“We wish him well and thank him for his services," said Richardson. "He’s come through the Academy, so fair play to them they’ve produced a player that has been recognised by many league clubs.
“In my opinion, certain players get to an age where they need to start their careers and play every week, and you never want to stifle that.
“I’m sure if he applies himself correctly then he will have a long career.
"We’ve helped him as much as we can on the start of his journey, with his first league appearance, cup appearance, goal.
“I’m a massive believer in Academies, it’s so good to see the fruits of your labour come onto the pitch.”
Long was quick to acknowledge his debt to the coaches at Wigan who helped develop him into the player he is.
"I would like to thank everyone associated with Wigan for the last five years," he tweeted. "I’ve had a great time and made some amazing memories and wish everyone the best going forward. Once a 'Tic!"
Long is also relishing the opportunity to kickstart his career over the Pennines.
“Ever since I spoke to the manager and came to have a chat with him, I felt like this is a place that I’ve wanted to come," he said.
“His plans for this season are amazing and it’s something I want to be a part of.
“I felt at home even before I signed and that was a big reason why I wanted to come down here on a permanent basis.”
Rovers manager Gary McSheffrey said: “He’s a good age, and he’s played in a Wigan team that was really up against it during Covid, when they were down near the bottom.
“He played 15 games or so and helped them to survive. He’s good when your backs are against the wall.
“Left-footed centre backs are always good to give you that balance. And him being quite cultured and calm on the ball, it ticks all the right boxes.”