Young Crawley duo handed deals

Jonte Smith has left Crawley

Jonte Smith has left Crawley

First published in Sport
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Crawley have offered one-year deals to youth teamers Ryan Richefond and Bradley Isaacs – just five weeks after announcing their academy is to close at the end of the season.

Boss John Gregory believes the central midfield pair have the potential to challenge for a first team spot in the future after impressing in the soon to be defunct under-18 side this season.

Richefond and Isaacs, from Tilgate, will replace Jonte Smith, Alex Malins and Louis John in the first team squad after Gregory confirmed the three young pros will not be offered new deals in the summer.

Gregory said: “They are two good footballers and have a real sense of ambition so we are going to give them a year’s contract to see whether we can develop them.

“I’ve given Ryan the nickname Dani after Dani Alves because he looks like him. Like Bradley he is quite small so we will need to get them in the gym and pump them up a bit.

“It is the bigger kids who tend to get through but these two are technically very gifted and as the likes of Alves and Lionel Messi have shown smaller players can make it if you have ability.

“They will be training with us for the rest of the season to get them used to it. We’ll pay them a small wage and after 12 months we will see whether they like it and whether they have progressed the way we hope they will.”

Smith,19, is the only player from Crawley’s academy – which will be scrapped in May to save money – to have ever featured for the first team. The striker from Bermuda made four substitute appearances for the first team last season but left this week to join Finnish side PS Kemi Kings.

Midfielder Alex Malins. 19, was an unused substitute on a number of occasions while defender Louis John, 21, failed to make a matchday squad having been awarded one-year professional contracts 12 months ago.

Gregory added: “The young boys I inherited when I took over are a long way off playing for the first team so I don’t think they will be offered new contracts. “We are trying to get them fixed up with a Conference or Conference south club as they need to go and play some first team football somewhere if they are going to make a career out of football.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward so we wish them all the best. Going to Finland will be good for Jonte as it will open his eyes a little bit and make him grow up”

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