Hearts academy manager Andy Webster outlines the club's pathway after six youngsters sign professional deals

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Teenagers get their chance at Tynecastle

Six Hearts teenagers have been given professional contracts with the club after graduating from the Riccarton youth academy. The players will now challenge for places in the under-18 squad and the Hearts B team, with academy manager Andy Webster outlining their potential pathway towards the first team.

Defender Jamie Anderson [born 2006] has signed a one-year deal, whilst the other five [all born 2007] agreed two-year contracts – centre-back Matthew Gillies, left-back Louie Selfridge, midfielder Owen Muirhead, striker Szymon Plesiewicz and goalkeeper Coupar Wilkie.

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Webster recently returned to Hearts to replace Frankie McAvoy as youth academy manager and explained that the next few years will be a gradual process for the players.

“The initial port of call will be all about establishing themselves,” he told the club website. “That will give them a grounding in what the full-time environment will look like. Basically, looking at ways to accelerate from there – starting with the under-18s before working their way towards involvement with the B Team.

“The general ambitions of anyone coming into the academy should be about looking towards progressing to the next stage as quickly as they possibly can. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

“Rightly so, these young guys should be celebrating because it’s an achievement to get to this point – and one that takes a lot of hard work and effort. Everyone in football knows that the next step is always the hardest part though.

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“We need to make sure they have the focus, determination, and discipline, to ensure they’re working towards that on a daily basis. If they can keep up that level of work, then they’ll reap the rewards down the line.”