Academy starlets go pro
Downing and Mantom sign up Sam Mantom and Paul Downing are the latest success from Albion’s blossoming Academy after the pair signed their first senior contracts with the club. Mantom, 20, a midfielder and Downing, 19, a defender, join Chris Wood, George Thorne, Romanie Sawyers and Lateef Elford-Alliyu in penning professional forms. The duo’s signatures signal the highest number of youngsters graduating from the Academy in 12 months since it was established five years ago. Both players have been selected in matchday squads for the Baggies with Mantom on the bench in the penultimate game of the season against Crystal Palace. Downing, along with Elford-Alliyu, recently enjoyed a six game loan spell at Hereford after winning the club’s Young Player-of-the-Year Award in 2008/09. "Sam's got that ability in midfield to see a pass," said Under-18s coach Keith Downing. "He's good with both feet, reads the game very well and tactically is quite astute. "Coupled with that, he is a focussed boy, diligent and works hard every day. "Paul also reads the game well and is technically good on the ball. "He had a spell out at Hereford, which has helped him on his learning curve. "It was a massive education for him to go and play real football." Downing believes the progression of youngsters is reward for all the hard effort put in by the Academy staff since it was granted its status back in 2005. “The work the Academy has done over the last five years is paying off,” Downing continued. "The Academy as a whole is looking quite strong and we've got a few more players coming through the ranks." Winger Kayleden Brown and goalkeeper Ryan Allsop have also had their scholarships extended into a third year after progressing well in the reserves this season. However Lee Lynch, Ashley Malcolm, Ashley Lovell, Tom Waghorn and Dwayne Samuels have all been released.
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