Grayson: Hard work starts now for PNE youngsters

Striker Jack Ryan has been handed a professional contract by Preston
Striker Jack Ryan has been handed a professional contract by Preston
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Jack Ryan and Nick Anderton will join the professional ranks at Preston North End next season after graduating from the club’s academy.

The pair are from the same age group as Josh Brownhill, who signed pro terms with PNE earlier this year.

Ryan, a striker, and 
left-back Anderton, will join Simon Grayson’s squad for pre-season training in July.

It is likely that they will get the chance to go out on loan at some stage to gain first-team experience.

Both benefited from loan spells during the season just finished.

Hoghton-based Anderton went to Chorley in March and played a part in the Magpies winning the NPL Premier Division title.

Ryan was loaned to Conference North outfit Stalybridge Celtic, helping them fight off relegation.

Both were regulars in the Preston youth team last season which reached the third round of the FA Youth Cup – Ryan scoring five goals in that run.

And the pair got an element of senior experience when they featured in two Lancashire Cup games for North End against Southport and Wigan.

PNE boss Simon Grayson is prepared to give youth its chance.

Midfielder Brownhill has been a first-team squad regular since October.

And in the last couple of months of the season, Alan Browne forced his way into Grayson’s plans after being signed from Cork City.

Grayson said: “It is nice that we have been able to give the opportunity to Nick Anderton and Jack Ryan to get professional contracts.

“They have showed what they are capable of doing. They both went out on loan and they have earned that right to get a contract.

“Now the hard work starts for them – they have to get down to the nitty-gritty.

“It is a big step up from youth football to first-team football but what they have 
got to do is grasp the opportunity.

“They are the fortunate ones that have got pro contracts – many young players have been released over the last few weeks and months.

“I think a lot about them both but they have got some work to do now.”

Ryan and Anderton will sign 12-month contracts with the option of a further year.

The other second-year scholars have now left North End after not being offered contracts.

Should Ryan and Anderton go out on loan next season, it would in all likelihood be at League Two level rather than to non-league clubs.

Will Hayhurst and Ben Davies are just back from a successful stay at York City.

Davies, who signed a professional deal with PNE this time last year, spent the full season with the Minstermen and played in almost every game.

He was joined there in February by Hayhurst who turned pro two years ago.

North End do not have a development squad or reserve side, meaning the loan route is the best way of gaining experience for youngsters.