Hartlepool United offer professional contract to defender Josh Nearney as seven leave

HARTLEPOOL United have offered youth team player Josh Nearney a professional contract after releasing seven other scholars.

Nearney’s offer means he joins first-team regular Brad Walker in being the only players from this season’s youth squad to be awarded pro deals.

John Hewitson, Hartlepool United Director of Youth said: “We played against Middlesbrough recently and Josh looked the best player on the pitch, he looked a class above.

“Josh stands out like a sore thumb because of his class.

“He has genuine ability for a centre-half.

“He can clear it, kick it, head it and pass it and has good skills but he has a desire to improve and a desire to win.”

Pools released Ben Wignall, David Turner, Keelan Nellis, Rhys Harbottle, Andy Bridges, Jonny Wright and Mark Foden.

Hewitson added: “I hate this time of year.

“Of course there are some positives like Josh but some of these players I’ve known since they were eight or nine so the decision is quite heartbreaking.

“It’s nothing personal just a business decision that the club doesn’t want to offer them a contact and release them to another club or a different route.”

Wignall, 19, who has captained the Youth Team this season has been offered a scholarship in America after being released by the club.

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Hewitson said: “The good thing about it is there is a pathway to go down.

“In the club we have an exit strategy that includes the education route getting the players into a University or College.”

He added: “The League Football Education help players to get scholarships aboard in places such as Sweden and they get educated over there.”

The League Football Education is a partnership set up by the Football League and the Professional Footballer’s Association.

Pools Youth Team currently sit in eight place in the Youth Alliance North East Division.