Football:Saints offer Speight three-year contract

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The 16-year-old and his parents – James and Kate – were told the news on Saturday after the First Tower United and Star Trophy defender had played in the Saints’ 2-1 FA Premier Academy under-17 win against Wimbledon.The teenager, a skilful, fast defender with an excellent temperament, was already on schoolboy forms with the south-coast Premiership club.

That assignment began last January taking the Grainville School student through to the summer of 2004, the end of his GCSEs in school.Joel’s father, James, said: ‘We’re all delighted.

Joel’s assessment from the club last weekend was very pleasing.

He had a good game against Wimbledon while overall he has done very well.’Joel has been offered an academy scholarship which is a three-year programme.

We have not signed anything yet because we and the club have lots of things to sort out.

Joel’s schooling and the academic side of things have to be looked at and with him having to leave the Island we also have to look at his accommodation.’Gaining this offer basically acknowledges how far Joel has come this year.

He has achieved his first goal and the full-time contract will only help him further.

However, it is not a guarantee that he has made it because in some cases contracts do get cancelled after two years.’The only guarantee is that Joel will get first-class coaching for the next two years and that’s pleasing.’Young Speight, Jersey Schoolboys captain when they retained the Star Trophy 1-0 away to Guernsey earlier this year, chose Southampton ahead of Chelsea after six-week trials with both Premiership clubs in 2003.He decision has turned out to be a good one and most weekends he has been playing for Southampton’s academy teams while once a fortnight he has remained in Hampshire for quality training on a Monday with the first-team at their training ground.Speight, who has played with First Tower United juniors and attended the Jersey Football Association’s Centre of Excellence, is not the only Jerseyman on Southampton’s books – former England star Graeme Le Saux is still playing at the highest level for the Saints.

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