The professional contracts awarded to Nick Anderton and Jack Ryan are richly deserved, according to the coach who has helped guide them through Preston North End’s academy.
Anderton and Ryan will join the Lilywhites first-team squad in July after signing 12-month contracts with the option of a further year.
Nick Harrison, manager of PNE’s academy, says joining the senior ranks is the reward for a great deal of hard work put in by the pair during their two years as trainees.
That time included spells on loan – Anderton at Chorley and Ryan at Stalybridge Celtic.
Harrison told the Evening Post: “It is down to the lads that they have professional contracts.
“The way that they applied themselves when they were with us as Under-18s players mean the deals are fully deserved.
“What the lads must do now is keep on learning when they are in the first-team squad and take their chance in the game.
“We are lucky that Simon Grayson is a manager who will give youth its chance if he thinks a player is good enough.
“If they impress him and the other coaches in training, then they will get the opportunity to push on from here.
“What really helped the lads was going out on loan to experience first-team football at other clubs.
“Nick went to Chorley and played his part in helping them win the title, which was fantastic.
“Jack saw the other side of things at Stalybridge – they fought a successful battle against relegation.
“When they survived, Jack sent me a text to say how much he had learned in that loan spell.”
Harrison says Anderton has the potential to play in a number of positions, while he describes Ryan as being in the ‘old fashioned’ centre-forward mould.
“Nick has played at left-back and as a left-sided centre-half,” said Harrison.
“He could probably play on the left-hand side of midfield and as a winger.
“The lad has got athletic attributes and a great left foot.
“As for Jack, he is a big lad for his age, strong and very powerful.
“He causes problems for defenders and I would say he is an old-fashioned type of striker.
“Jack’s got an eye for goal and had scored some really good ones, not just tap-ins.
“In our run in the FA Youth Cup he scored five goals, which was a very good return.
“They are from the same year as Josh Brownhill, who got into the first-team squad earlier in the season.
“Nick and Jack have seen what Josh has done and they should be encouraged by that.”
Harrison believes that North End’s academy is bearing fruit, with youngsters being drip-fed into the first-team squad.
He said: “The club is not in a position to give everyone in the academy a professional contract. If we can get one or two through every year, that is benefiting Preston.
“The ones who don’t quite make it here, we try and help find other clubs.
“Some lads have left and gone on to do well elsewhere.
“The hard work starts again after the holidays – the first-year lads become second years and we have taken on nine new lads.”