Southampton youngsters Richard Bakary, Ollie Cook, Alfie Jones and Olufela Olomola are all hoping to progress with the club after signing professional contracts.
The four Saints Academy players have all impressed during their scholarships, which has seen them handed two-year deals as they make the step up into the Under-21s for next season.
It caps a fine season for the quartet, and for Jones in particular, who also won the club’s Young Player of the Year award last week.
“It’s unbelievable and I’m obviously delighted to sign a professional contract,” said Jones, who has been with the club since the age of nine. “I’ve been working hard for a few years for this in my scholarship and trying to get it to put pen-to-paper.
“It’s very special and it’s what I’ve been working towards right the way through and this is a club that I can develop my football and it’s a club that’s going places and one that I want to commit my future to.”
Jones’s central defensive partner Ollie Cook says he sees the potential at the club and is already looking forward to next season:
“I’m excited to start on the next bit of work which will hopefully take me to the next level with this contract,” he said. “I’m happy to sign at Southampton, it’s a big club that’s going places, and I want to be a part of that.
“Two years is security for starters and at a club like this with the coaches and the facilities that they have, it’s a real chance to kick on and really improve over the next two years and see where it takes me.”
Fellow defender Richard Bakary believes that the players and staff around the club have been pivotal in his own development.
“I’m so happy,” he said with a smile. “It wasn’t easy because you have to work hard, but all the staff here help you and all the staff are special. Flem [Craig Fleming], Martin Hunter, Radhi Jaïdi and Bob [Davison] they all help me, especially my teammates as well here, they really helped me out.
“I know that if I keep working hard I can achieve big things next season.”
Under-18s captain and striker Olufela Olomola, who appeared on the bench for the first team in one game this season, is eyeing a route into Ronald Koeman’s team:
“I’m not going to rest on my laurels,” he stated. “I’m going to look to improve and look to get better. My aim is not just to get a professional contract it’s to get into the first team so that’s what I want to reach.
“I’m delighted to be part of this amazing club. It’s a club that’s growing all the time and I’m just very happy to be a part of it.”