Youngsters sign first pro deals

Dom Bernard, Charlie Cooper, Wes Harding and Wes McDonald have signed two-year deals, with Josh Cogley, Perry Cotton, Kyle McFarlane, George O’Neill and Jake Weaver all getting 12 months to impress.

Academy coach Steve Spooner spoke to to give us an introduction to the new professionals hoping to carve out a career at St. Andrew’s…

Jake Weaver
DOB: 08/05/1997

“Jake has really come on and established himself this season. He’s a very calm character and his distribution out of his hands in particular is very good. He starts counter-attacks for us. He’s a good shot-stopper and works hard on his all-round game, like commanding his area a bit better.”

Josh Cogley
DOB: 12/03/1996

“Josh originally came to us as a winger on trial and we didn’t think he did enough to take him on but then he came back on the radar as a full-back. We had him back in and he did very well so we signed him as a scholar. He has really progressed well and worked on his overall game and his variety of passing. That part of game has really come to fruition. He is a wonderful athlete, he’s quick and has the ability to get forward and back quickly, which is a prerequisite for a modern day full-back.”

Perry Cotton
DOB: 26/10/1996

“Perry is arguably our most improved player this season. He missed the whole first year of his scholarship due to an unrelated football accident. He’s shown great strength of character to come back from that and perform at the level he has – he’s been excellent. His strength is his ability to join in attacks, he's got better defending one-v-ones and his distribution has improved."

Dom Bernard
DOB: 29/03/1997

"Dom is your thinking man's footballer. He is very calm and composed on the ball and seldom goes to ground. He sees things quickly and his reading of the game is excellent. He has played in numerous positions for us as well.”

Wes Harding
DOB: 26/10/1996

“We took Wes from Aston Villa as a 16-year-old because we thought he was a project and we saw something in him that we thought we could develop, with the work from all the coaches and the boy’s input himself – he's a 24/7 professional footballer. He is strong, aggressive, tenacious and much improved with the ball.”

Charlie Cooper
Central midfielder
DOB: 01/05/1997

“Charlie is like the conductor of the orchestra; he sets the tone. He’s learnt how to slow games down and speed games up. His range of passing has improved, as well as his goal scoring. And I think there is more to come from him in that area.”

Wes McDonald
Attacking midfielder
DOB: 04/05/1997

“Unfortunately we lost Wes just before Christmas due to a knee ligament injury. He’s a very powerful boy that can play on either flank or off the top. He has good levels of skill, he's very powerful and possesses a great engine. He has pace and scores goals as well.”

George O’Neill
DOB: 09/09/1996

“George had a really good first season. This season was a slow start due to injuries, but from Christmas onwards he's got back to the kind of the player that we know he can be. He’s an intelligent footballer, he's very clever with his understanding of space for himself and his team-mates. He can set play up well and score goals.”

Kyle McFarlane
DOB: 28/12/1996

“Our top scorer with 12 competitive goals during 2014/15, Kyle is really coming back into his own. His understanding, movement and seeing space is the best I've worked with. He’s very quick and he's a goal scorer.”