Callum Saunders signs first pro contract at Crewe Alexandra
Teenager Callum Saunders, son of former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Wales striker Dean, has signed his first professional deal with Crewe Alexandra.
The Wales Under-19 international had attracted interest from Premier League clubs, but has opted to continue his football education in Crewe's Academy.
Crewe's young hopefuls
- Callum Saunders (18) striker, Callum Prichard-Ellis (18) striker, Fraser Murdoch (18) striker, James Jones (18) midfielder, Perry Ng (17) defender, George Cooper (17) winger
"I always wanted to stay at Crewe because I grew up here," said Saunders, 18. "I've been here since I was six.
"I know that, if I'm good enough, I'll be able to play in the first team."
Striker Saunders is the last of the six academy products offered contracts by Alex boss Steve Davis to to commit his future to the club, following fellow strikers Callum Prichard-Ellis and Fraser Murdoch, winger George Cooper, midfielder James Jones and defender Perry Ng.
"Because I'd scored quite a few goals for the Under-18s this season there was a bit of interest. But I've been at Crewe all my life. I know everyone here and all my mates have signed," he told BBC Radio Stoke.
Dad Dean's record
- 1982-1985 Swansea 49 games, 12 goals
- 1985 Cardiff City (loan) 4 games
- 1985-1987 Brighton 72 games, 21 goals
- 1987-1988 Oxford 59 games, 22 goals
- 1988-1991 Derby 106 games, 42 goals
- 1991-1992 Liverpool 42 games, 11 goals
- 1992-1995 Aston Villa 112 games, 37 goals
- 1995-1996 Galatasaray 27 games, 15 goals
- 1996-1997 Nottm Forest 43 games, 5 goals
- 1997-1998 Sheff Utd 43 games, 17 goals
- 1998-1999 Benfica 17 games, 5 goals
- 1999-2001 Bradford City 44 games, 3 goals
- Wales: 75 games, 22 goals (1986-2001)
"Hopefully, by the end of the season I'll be pushing for the first team. Steve Davis said I'm going to be playing in the Under-21s to start with, so I'll try to get a few goals, play well and then try to push on for the first team."
Saunders has just returned from the Under-19 European Championships in Portugal, where he scored for Wales in their final game group game against Greece just a minute after coming off the bench.
Meanwhile, Davis admitted his approach to summer rebuilding depends on whether they are successful in persuading Arsenal loan signing Chuks Aneke return to Gresty Road, and in keeping his two out-of-contract players, Byron Moore and Max Clayton.
"Much will depend on whether Max and Byron sign again," said Davis. "We need another forward now that Chuks Aneke and Uche Ikpeazu have returned to their clubs and A J Leitch-Smith has moved on.
"But we have signed a number of young players from our Academy and one or two of them may surprise us next season. We are not expecting them to come through straight away but are excited by their potential.
"I need to replace some of the lads we have let go, not all of them. We can replace some from within and we have a decent sized squad already.
"If I can find three more quality players to help us then that would be a real plus."