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Eastleigh show faith in youth
11:24pm Saturday 21st April 2012 in Eastleigh FC
Eastleigh have underscored their commitment to youth by offering contracts to four more up-and-coming young guns.
Seventeen-year-old striker Sam Wilson is already under contract for 2012/13 and now Ben Wilson, Will Aimson, Matt Gray and Callum Casson have the chance to join him.
Director Neil Fox and manager Ian Baird met the quartet on Wednesday, offering them the chance to be part of the club's exciting future mapped out by Fox and fellow majority shareholder Stewart Donald.
Although Baird believes he will need a street-wise squad to achieve Bridle's goal of promotion to the Blue Square Bet Premier, the club will not close the door on youth.
Baird, who started with three teenagers - Sam Wilson, Aimson and on-loan Saints goalkeeper Jack Dovey - in last Saturday's excellent 1-0 win at Welling, said: "To play all the young names mentioned and expect to get promoted is a bridge too far, but we've got three or four players with potential that we'd like to keep.
"This club is going places - with or without me - and it's down to these young players to show they want to be part of it. I need to know where I stand with the squad and the budget."
At the start of the season, youngsters like the Wilsons trained daily with Eastleigh as part of a full-time programme which has since been ditched.
"Having a full-time programme wouldn't be financially viable at the moment and it doesn't guarantee that youngsters play," Baird explained.
Aimson went on as a late substitute as Eastleigh wound up their home programme with a 1-1 draw against play-off chasers Chelmsford City today.
Both goals were scored late on with Andy Forbes's 83rd-minute header for Eastleigh cancelled out by a Dave Rainford penalty three minutes from time.