HARTLEPOOL United’s newest professional footballer Josh Nearney says signing a pro contract with Pools is a “dream come true”.
While Pools fans are still waiting for the first new signing of the summer, the Sky Bet League Two club has been busy tying up existing players to new contracts.
One of those is former youth team player Josh Nearney who has put pen to paper on his first professional contract at The Vic.
Club officials say the 18-year-old centre back has impressed since joining the club from Middlesbrough as an Under 16 and was offered terms at the end of last season.
As well as turning out for the youth team during the 2013-14 campaign, Nearney also played for the reserve team at Pools.
A graduate of the well-known Wallsend Boys Club, Nearney has a physical presence and helped himself to three goals for the youth team and two for the reserves last season.
Nearney said: “I got told at the end of March that I was getting a professional deal and it’s a dream come true for me.
“It’s just amazing and it’s difficult to put it in to words.
“I have been playing football since I was about five and it’s unbelievable that I can finally class myself as a professional footballer.
“I can’t wait to get started now and I have been doing work over the summer but I want to come back really fit and try and challenge for the first team and my professional debut.”
Last week, his youth team coach John Hewitson praised the technique and composure of the teenager in SportMail.
As well as handing Nearney his first pro deal, the club has also given new contracts to Jordan Richards, Darren Holden, Sam Collins and Neil Austin in recent weeks, while younger players Dan Jones and Josh Rowbotham have also signed new deals.
But Pools fans are still waiting to see some new faces come through the doors at the Clarence Road club ahead of the new League Two campaign, with the players returning to pre-season training in a fortnight.
* Meanwhile, Pools are one of the non-seeded sides when the regional draw for the first round of the Capital One Cup takes place tomorrow morning.
The competition is split in to north and south sections for the first stage and the seeding system means that Colin Cooper’s men are guaranteed to be playing higher division opposition.
The draw will be made at 10am on Tuesday, June 17, with first round ties scheduled to be played in the week beginning Monday, August 11.
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- RICHARD MENNEAR