Cheltenham Town: Churchdown-based Joe Hanks set for professional contract
GLOUCESTERSHIRE-BORN Joe Hanks is on the verge of signing a professional contract with Cheltenham Town.
The 17-year-old midfielder has spent most of this season with Mark Yates' first-team squad, making his senior debut as a substitute against Exeter City in October.
While he remains a scholarship player, he has been fast-tracked by Yates this season, who was impressed with his performances for the youth and reserve teams last term.
Hanks, who hails from Churchdown, will now follow in the footsteps of David Bird, Martin Devaney, Michael Jackson, Gareth Hopkins and Jake Lee, who all played in the Football League for the Robins having been born in the county.
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The former St Peter's High School pupil has been putting in hours of extra strengthening work in a bid to bulk up for the challenges that lie ahead.
Another member of Russell Milton's youth team, winger Ed Williams, who grew up a stone's throw from Whaddon Road, has also been spending time training with the first team in recent weeks, in a bid to impress Yates.
Winger Owen Donaghue is to join Cheltenham Saracens on work experience, with right-back Keiran Thomas and central defender Michael Gonzalo are already out at Cinderford Town and Mangotsfield United respectively.
A young Cheltenham XI will visit Cirencester Town in the quarter-finals of the Gloucestershire Senior Trophy this evening (7.30pm).
Goalkeeper Connor Roberts is the only professional scheduled to play. Hanks is set to be start, but Forest of Dean-based Thomas will not be included due to Cinderford's home match against Mangotsfield.