Wigan Athletic Academy signal plans for future

Academy manager Gregor Rioch has reflected on a 'challenging' year at junior level after confirming his retained list for Wigan Athletic.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 1:00 pm
Gregor Rioch (right), with Peter Murphy and Leam Richardson

Rioch has spent much of this season in and around the first-team set-up, assisting Leam Richardson through the carnage of administration and fighting for League One survival.

Hopefully with the takeover by Phoenix 2021 Limited having been completed, and Latics within touching distance of securing League One safety, a new era awaits - with the Academy at the heart of it.

“First and foremost, I would like to congratulate all of those players who have been offered extended or new terms with the football club," said Rioch.

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“In terms of the U18s, it has been another fantastic season collectively. To be sitting at the top of the table, in just our second season at Category Two level, and following on from their winners' medals from last year, is an unbelievable achievement.

“They have all applied themselves brilliantly, particularly in the last 12 months given the challenges we have faced, resulting in the players having fractured training programmes. They have shown resolve, resilience and commitment to the club, and we thank them for that.

“For those that we have offered deals to, it is an outstanding achievement to be offered your first professional contract. Their job now is to see if they can use this as a benchmark to go and make a career in the game.

“Looking at the two young pros who we have offered extended deals to, we are delighted with both of their progressions.

Scott Smith is a born-and-bred Wiganer, a fan of the club, and a previous captain of both our U18s and U23s. We’re looking forward to progressing his career with the club.

"Sam Tickle has had a fantastic few years here, and has been with us a long time. He’s worked really hard to get to where he is today, and we are happy with how he is developing with us.

“For those who are leaving the club at the end of their contracts, we’d firstly like to thank them for their efforts at Wigan Athletic. We will be working with them and their families to ensure we do our best to help them onto their next pathway, whether that be elsewhere in football, or something away from the sport.

“We have a responsibility to support these lads, and we will be ensuring we help them with their next step. The aftercare for these players will be provided and continued, not only by us as a football club, but with the PFA too.

“They have given their all to Wigan Athletic throughout their time with us, and we wish them the very best of luck for the future.”

Under-23 players Scott Smith and Sam Tickle have been offered extended terms to their professional deals.

MacKenzie O’Neill and Jack Sanders will leave following the expiry of their existing contracts this summer.

Under-18s players Baba Adeeko, James Carragher, Tom Costello, Kieran Lloyd, Harry McGee, Harry McHugh and Sean McGurk have been offered professional contracts at the end of their scholarships.

Millen Brown, Zach Dobie, Jason Fulton and Marcus Snell will leave this summer.

The following U18 players will enter the second-year of their scholarships next season: Adam Brooks, Sam Campbell, Charlie Hughes, Arthur Lomax, Kian Monks, Owen Mooney, Dan Smith, Chris Sze, Tom Watson and Levi Welsh.

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