Wigan Athletic starlets challenged to kick on
Gregor Rioch has challenged Wigan Athletic's stars of tomorrow to 'be part of something special' after handing five of them their first professional contracts.
Goalkeeper Sam Tickle, striker Tom Costello, and midfielders Baba Adeeko, Harry McGee and Harry McHugh have all put pen to paper after impressing at academy level.
And Rioch wants them to follow in the footsteps of so many of their fellow academy graduates in making the breakthrough at first-team level.
“I think it’s great for the lads who have extended their time with us," said Rioch.
"It is brilliant for them to sign their first professional contracts because they now get an opportunity to further their career here with the football club.
“Leam and this football club have shown that it’ll provide an opportunity for the young players who work hard enough, invest time in themselves, and want to progress as professional footballers and try to get careers in the game.
“I think it is an exciting time because they’ve seen it is possible to break through and get first-team action at our football club.
“There are exciting times ahead with the rebuild of the club, and it's a chance to be part of something special.
"They have already been a part of something special in the academy this year.
“The next step is now about forging a career in the game. We will be looking as a football club, and as a football academy, to continue to nurture and develop them as people."
Tickle, 19, has represented England schoolboys at Under-16 level and has been involved with the Latics first-team squad and the Under-23s since 2020.
Costello, 18, joined Latics from Tranmere three years ago and won the divisional Golden Boot for the Under-18s Professional Development League with 21 goals.
Adeeko, 18, hails from the Republic of Ireland and played for the Under-23s as well as Under-18s last term.
McGee, 18, also joined Latics from Tranmere, and also stepped up to the Under-23s when required.
McHugh, 18, had a spell at Everton before joining Latics five years ago, and scored his first senior goal in the 2-2 Papa John's Trophy draw last November.