Teenage defender Jack James is well aware the hard work starts all over again after signing his first professional contract at Luton Town this week.
The 18-year-old right-back was the only second-year scholar to be offered a deal after enjoying an excellent season, which included making an impressive senior debut in the Checkatrade Trophy clash with Tottenham U21s last August, setting up Josh McQuoid for the equaliser in a 2-2 draw.
I’m looking forward to adding to those experiences next season and can’t wait to get going again when we’re back for pre-season at the end of June.Jack James
James also made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland U18s, earning two caps, as the Upper Caldecote-based youngster who joined the club as a 14-year-old, said: “I’m over the moon. I’ve worked hard to get to this point, but I know that is only the start. I’ve got to continue that way and work even harder now to make sure I get another contract.
“I’ve got people to look up to in the squad already, especially James Justin who plays the same position and has come through the youth team. He’s established himself, and that’s what I want to do now.”
Having spent time gaining valuable senior experience on loan at Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division club Hitchin Town earlier this year, James also starred in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup victory over Wigan for Inigo Idiakez’s youth team.
He continued: “I’ve really enjoyed the past season and although Ini will rib me for saying it, I’ve got to have the Tottenham game at Kenilworth Road as the highlight – it was a night that will live with me forever.
“Of course, the cup final win was fantastic too, as was being called up by Ireland for the first time. It was really useful to experience the physicality of men’s football with Hitchin as well, as that’s something you don’t get in youth team matches.
“I’m looking forward to adding to those experiences next season and can’t wait to get going again when we’re back for pre-season at the end of June.”
Manager Nathan Jones added: “Jack’s earned an opportunity with the first team with his performances for the youth team and in the Checkatrade Trophy this season.
“He’s shown a great attitude in every match he’s played, as well as at the training ground on a daily basis. He’s a committed boy who we hope will develop into a fine player for Luton Town.”