ELEVEN amateur players will face the biggest match of their lives on Wednesday [January 16] when they take part in the Final of Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract competition.
This season’s initiative attracted more than 5,000 entrants, with the top 360 picked for regional trials at Goal Soccer Centres around the country.
The Semi-Final trial match - held at the County Ground on December 16 - saw 22 players whittled down to 11 by Town boss Paolo Di Canio and Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade, who will also offer one player a professional contract.
The Final will see the remaining contenders take on a Leyton Orient XI at the club’s Matchroom Stadium on Wednesday January 16. Gates open at 6.30pm for a 7pm kick-off. Entry is free.
Di Canio will attend the match and choose a select group of players to spend a week training with his first-team squad next month.
He will then select one lucky player to join his squad on a year-long professional playing contract.
Di Canio said: “All the finalists have done well to make it this far. They should be proud of their achievements.
“I am looking for a player who will fit into my current squad and improve as a footballer. He must have a good attitude and be willing to learn.
“There is an amazing prize on offer. The players will have to work hard to show that they deserve it.”
Follow Win A Pro Contract at www.facebook.com/samsungfootball
Rory Kelly, 21
Goalkeeper currently playing for Finn Harps FC in the Irish First Division. He is a former team-mate of Sunderland winger James McClean.
Danny Bate, 19
Right-back currently playing for AFC Liverpool in the North West Counties Football League. He made the final of last season’s Win A Pro Contract competition.
Joe Hopewell, 18
Defender currently playing for Stamford AFC in the Northern Premier League Division One South. He is a former Stoke City Academy player.
Jack Sherratt, 19
Midfielder currently playing for Kidsgrove Athletic in the Evo-Stik League Division One South. Jack has previously played for Port Vale Youth Team and England Schoolboys. He is close friends with last season’s Win A Pro Contract winner Chris Smith.
Naby Diallo, 22
Midfielder currently playing for Weston Super Mare in the Conference South Division. He is a former Bristol City Academy player.
Joe Noakes, 18
Defender currently playing for Hawks Academy in the Football Conference Youth Alliance. Joe’s grandad Alf Noakes played professionally for West Ham, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth during the 1950s and 60s.
Jake Cass, 19
Defender currently playing for Harlow Town FC in the Ryman League North Division. Formerly played for East Thurrock United, Aveley and Braintree Town.
Ansu Lissa, 19
Midfielder currently playing for Tamworth FC in the Blue Square Conference Premier Division.
Reece Hewitt, 20
Midfielder currently playing for non-league Hertford Town. He is a former West Ham United and Preston North End player.
Kayden Jackson, 18
Striker currently playing for Albion Sports in the Northern Counties East League Division One. He is a former player of Blackburn Rovers.
Claudio Hoban, 21
Striker currently playing for Histon FC in the Conference North Division. He is a former Leicester City Academy player.