Barnsley Football Club can confirm that our U21s squad has been bolstered by eight players agreeing new terms at Oakwell.
Amir Ariely and Will Lancaster, who were part of the set-up last season, have extended their stays, as have Daniel Benson, Kieren Flavell, Keegan Hartley and Harrison Nejman following a fine campaign at U18s level.
Lithuanian midfielder Tomas Kalinauskas impressed during pre-season under Michael Duff as has signed a new deal with the Reds, while striker Jack Butterfill put pen to paper after a successful trial period.
The octet have been training with our first team set-up this summer, with several featuring at Guiseley last Tuesday evening.
“Obviously it’s a proud moment for me and my family signing my first professional contract, but I think it’s more of an opportunity to kick on again and keep developing,” asserted midfielder Nejman. “I’ve been here a few years now and captained the under 18s last season and that was a brilliant team and now I think that gives us something to work on going into the under 21s.
“I’m thankful for my family and the staff for making it possible but determined to carry on improving throughout the upcoming season.”
Israeli defender Ariely added: “I am really pleased to extend my stay here. I feel like I have made huge progress every year that I have been here, and I am looking forward to keep progressing and see what the future holds for me this season.”
Goalkeeper Flavell said: “I’m over the moon to have signed a professional contract for the club I’ve been at for 10 years. Towards the end of last season, I had a little spell with the first team training and also featured on the bench for the final couple of games, which was a real eye opener of what I could experience every week if I keep working hard and push myself to get to this stage.
“Now, coming into the goalkeeping group officially this pre-season, I have really enjoyed training every day and I’m looking to improve constantly and taking on as much information as I can from the other goalkeepers.”
Midfielder Hartley beamed: “It was an unreal feeling to sign my first professional contract for a club I’ve been at from such a young age. I hope to play regular games with the under 21s and push to be involved with the first team.”
Defender Benson stated: “I’m delighted to have signed my first professional contract here at Barnsley. To sign a professional contract is a dream for me and many other players and to do that now is a proud moment for me and my family.
“Last season I got onto the bench against Barrow, which was a good experience for me, this season I want to push on and hopefully get more opportunities like that and be in and around the first team more.”
Midfielder Lancaster said: “I’m really happy to have signed and be here another season. Going into my 13th year at the club, I really want to try kick on and show what I can do. Hopefully I will get a few opportunities and I have to take them.”
Versatile wide man Kalinauskas surmised: “I’m really happy to extend my stay here at Barnsley and I’m looking forward to the season ahead.
“Pre-season has been tough; I’ve been playing in a new position, so I’ve had to adapt and learn the game from a different perspective and I’m still learning, but I’m really enjoying it. The gaffer has had a really positive impact on the place and all the boys, so I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”
Striker Butterfill, who was previously at Leicester City, explained: “It’s been great. Obviously, in pre-season, the manager has worked us hard over the past couple of weeks, but it’s been good getting back to normal football. The idea of being with the under 21s and the first team – having opportunities with both and getting minutes hopefully with the first team and making my debut is what attracted me to Barnsley.”
Academy Manager, Bobby Hassell gave his thoughts: “We’re pleased that the lads have chosen to commit their futures to the Club.
“We’re excited about the first-year pros, who are signing after a successful season with the under 18s, while those who were part of the squad last season have kicked on and impressed. The aim is to get them as close to the first team as possible and, if not, we will look for loan moves to help continue their development.”
Barnsley FC Chief Executive Officer, Khaled El-Ahmad added: “I am happy that these players have signed, another testament to the good work our academy does. We are a Club with a clear pathway to the first team, but it will require hard work and the right attitude to do so.”
Congratulations, from everyone at Oakwell.