TALENTED young footballers from one Warrington team have signed for academy sides at four different professional clubs in the same week.

Despite the grassroots football season finishing in March due to the coronavirus outbreak and the country going into lockdown, Whittle Hall Junior Football Club’s Under 8s Wolves team have had a busy period with four players progressing to Under 9s Academy teams at north west clubs.

Albie Cleary has signed at Preston North End, Addison Cornelia at Wigan Athletic, Ashton Illingworth at Blackpool and George Meachin at Manchester United.

It is a mark of the environment in which the quartet have developed as footballers as they all started out with the club’s development group at the age of four and ever since have played together in the same team, managed and coached by Ste Illingworth and Phil Cleary.

They have played their part in a team featuring in the Warrington Junior Football League and in the two seasons they have played, have scored more than 200 goals.

Dave Smith, chairman of Whittle Hall JFC, said: “This is wonderful news in a time when there is a lot of doom and gloom around.

“It shows that with hard work and dedication what can be achieved. The team and the coaches Ste and Phil have been a credit to the club.

“During the lockdown we have also had one of our Under 9s Whittle Hall JFC Madrid players, under manager and coach Chris Harrison, signing for Oldham Athletic Academy.

“When you have one player signing for a professional club’s academy it means a lot to a small club like ours but for five in one season it’s beyond fantastic.

“The club are very proud of the achievements of the boys and the coaches and we wish them all the best for the future.”

Ste Illingworth added: “I started coaching the boys at Whittle Hall JFC at the age of four and have been part of their development throughout.

“The recognition by the clubs they have signed for reflects the hard work put in by the coaches at Whittle Hall JFC to help the boys develop their game in a fun, safe environment.”