Teenager Ross Sykes is the latest player to sign up to a new deal at Accrington Stanley.
The defender has signed a two-year contract, with a one-year option, with both the manager and his team-mates singing his praises.
The 19-year-old admits he has come back fitter than ever and has played two 90 minutes in pre-season, against Huddersfield and Hyde, impressing in both. He hopes to continue this at home to Middlesbrough tomorrow (3pm).
“I have been working hard,” said Burnley-born Sykes, who was at Burnley’s Academy until he was 13 and then impressed in a trial at Stanley.
“I was running on the beach, I have been going to the gym and I have come back sharper. I was determined to be in the best condition I can be as I want to step up to the first team this season.
“I was pleased with my performance against Huddersfield and Hyde – both were different games – but I felt I acquitted myself well.
“My big thing now is to be more vocal on the pitch but I think that will come with confidence. It’s good to have a longer term contract as I feel more settled.”
Sykes made his Reds debut in the Checkatrade Trophy in 2016 and came on twice as a sub last season in the league.
“I want to get a start in the league, that’s my first aim,” added Sykes.
John Coleman said: “I was really impressed with Ross in pre-season, his fitness work has been very good and he has been good on the ball in training.
“He had a smashing game against Huddersfield and it was a polished performance against Hyde. He is heading in the right direction.
“I was looking for two centre halves but, with the form of Ross, I may only now bring in one which is a big boost.
“It would be great to get a local lad in the team as we haven’t had that for a while.”
Fellow defender Mark Hughes added: “Ross wants to learn, he is a good size and a good age and he is certainly good enough to play for Accrington in League One. He has an old head on young shoulders and he will be pushing everyone for a place in the starting line-up which is what you want.”