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Former New Forest Football Academy teen Harry Thomas signs contract with Peterborough United FC

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FORMER New Forest Football Academy player Harry Thomas has signed a two-year professional contract with Peterborough United FC.

Thomas, who joined Peterborough United U18s following several seasons at AFC Bournemouth Academy, has been a regular at the heart of the U18 squad and has been called up several times to play in the U23s.

The teenage defender said: "I am buzzing. It is a proud day for my family and me, and I am really happy.

Harry celebrates scoring for Peterborough U18s (photo: Peterborough United)
Harry celebrates scoring for Peterborough U18s (photo: Peterborough United)

"When I had the opportunity to join Peterborough United, it was one that I wanted to grasp; you only have to look into the first team to see that there is a natural pathway from the academy and the U23s.

"I didn't have any second thoughts when I was offered the opportunity to come to the club, and I have really enjoyed it. It has been a busy schedule but a real learning curve. At under 23s, there is much more of a physical challenge. The intensity is a bit different, but I have tried to do my best, and I am learning all of the time."

He joined New Forest Football Academy in 2015, attending the Elite Development Centre in Lymington when he was 11 years old and working directly with coach Niall Hugh.

In 2016, Thomas was offered a six-week trial with AFC Bournemouth following Hugh's recommendation to Carl Robson, the head of player recruitment at the time.

Thomas continued: "I am a defender who likes to play when I can, I look at someone like Ronnie Edwards, who has done so well in the first team, and it can be an inspiration.

Signing his professional contract (photo: Peterborough United)
Signing his professional contract (photo: Peterborough United)

"The challenge is to become a regular in the under-23s next season and keep learning and improving."

Academy manager Kieran Scarff added: "Harry has all the attributes to be a real prospect for the future. He has a good attitude on and off the pitch, we have spoken with him about using his size and being aggressive in his defending, and he is getting that now.

"We want our centre-halves to be cultured when in possession and play out from the back, and he has those attributes. We are looking forward to helping him develop over the next few years."

A spokesperson for New Forest Football Academy said: "Everyone involved at the academy would like to say a huge congratulations to Harry, as he now embarks on his career as a professional footballer.

"We cannot describe how proud we are to see one of our former players signing a professional contract. The work rate and commitment that Harry and his family have made over the last few years are extremely admirable, and we are so happy to hear the amazing news."

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