HEAD OF ACADEMY Craig Mulholland is delighted defender Aidan Wilson has signed a new deal – and revealed more are set to follow him in the coming weeks.
Mulholland is delighted with Wilson’s progress over the last year, as well as the progress of the Academy in general, with a number of their products now impacting at first-team level.
He explained: “Aidan is one of a few who we are talking to at the moment, and we got him over the line first. There will be a number of young players who will be signing new contracts over the next couple of weeks.
“When we started this project, we looked at changing a lot of the infrastructure and the environment around a lot of the players so that hopefully, two years down the line, as we are now, we start seeing some players hitting the first team.
“Last year, Aidan made his debut which we were delighted with – and it was a real pressure one for him against Aberdeen where he started and did exceptionally well. So he is the kind of young talent we want to try and get secured at the club for the next few years so that our future looks very positive.
“The challenge for these lads – and we had Aidan and Jamie Barjonas last year who did exceptionally well when they came into the first team – is when they come back down to the 20s, can they be as motivated and as stimulated in order to make the next step back up to the first team?
“Aidan has done that very well and has deservedly got a new contract. When you look also at Ross McCrorie who has now established himself, and Myles Beerman who played last year, we said it would take a couple of years to get the pathway starting to function – and I think we are now getting to that bit and we are really optimistic when you look at the look at the players we have in the Academy just now and the ones below that, the next 18 months to two years could be an exciting time for us.”
Wilson in particular has impressed Mulholland, and he explained the reasons why he has been awarded with a new deal.
He added: “Aidan has had a really interesting journey. Last year, he probably wasn’t the first choice centre-back, and he’ll say that by his own admission.
“All the athletes go through some form of struggle to get to where they want to get to, and if you were awarding a most improved player last year, Aidan was a real positive example to everyone in the Academy.
“The culture of the Academy has changed in that a number of the players are now staying behind until 5 or 6pm, and Aidan is one who never left this building before 6pm last year.
“He would sit with Graeme Murty and go through his clips, he would do work in the gym, he would work with the sports scientists, he would be working with the analysts and he would be working with the medical team, and everything he did was dedicated to him becoming a footballer.
“That positivity then rubs off on others. He’s clearly a strong athlete and an aggressive centre-back. He has a lot of good football attributes, but probably his biggest strength is the fact that he is a real positive example to every other player in here in terms of how we would want an elite young athlete to look.”