Burnley midfielder Aiden O’Neill is delighted to have signed his first professional contract at Turf Moor.
O’Neill, 17, joined the club in 2014, but the midfielder, in his second year of his scholarship, is pleased to commit his future to the club.
O’Neill said: “I’m delighted to finally be a professional footballer and sign my first pro deal.
“There was talk of a new deal for a while now and it’s great to have it all done and dusted and have a bit of security behind me now.
“But I can’t just stop now. I need to just keep doing what I am doing now, which is training hard, playing well and learn what I can when I train with the first team.”
The Australian-born midfielder was unable to play in the Youth Alliance for the Youth Team for his first season at the club, as O’Neill had to wait for international clearance.
That meant the former Brisbane Athletic youngster had to play his much needed game time with the Development Squad.
O’Neill added: “Waiting for the international clearance was a bit of a down point to my time here, but it has helped me in a way, as I trained with the under 21’s because I couldn’t play for the U18s.
“It meant that I was playing and training with better players and it pushed me on and it has improved me as a player.”
With the recent flurry of contracts and loan moves in the U21 group, O’Neill is confident the gap from development squad football to the first team will narrow.
O’Neill explained: “The U21s here is a really good group. We have some really good players in there, and that is backed up by the fact that players are signing long term contracts and the future is bright for the group.
“It has been a few years since the club has had a few youngsters close to the first team, but I definitely think there will be more and more players breaking through in the next year or so.”
Fellow midfielders Dean Marney and Joey Barton have both featured for the Development Squad, partnering O’Neill on numerous occasions.
The 17-year-old has also trained and travelled with the first team, including their most recent trip to La Manga in October - an honour that the Australian has benefited from.
O’Neill said: “When Dean and Joey were with the U21s it was great to play alongside them both and just see what they are like on the ball and how they read the game.
“It’s great to train and learn from the experienced players in the first team. They have been first class with me and the other young lads and they will help me massively developing as a player.
“Going to Spain and Middlesbrough with the first team as a second year scholar was also an unbelievable experience and hopefully that can continue if I keep performing.
“I need to listen to those around me and ultimately improve my game as I think there’s a lot more to come from me.”