11-goal striker, ex-West Ham winger & South African CB – The Toon talents out of contract in 2022

An interesting article popped up from The Chronicle about some of our youngsters who will see their contracts expire at the end of the season, as things stand.

Four in particular stood out. Left winger Rosaire Longelo, South African talent Brad Cross, defender Reagan Thomson and free-scoring striker Dylan Stephenson.

Stephenson is having an exceptional season in the Under-23s. With 11 goals in 16 appearances so far, it would be a major surprise if he wasn’t given a new contract. He’s also probably just about due a loan move and seems a talent we’d be silly to lose at this stage. Behind Joe White and Elliott Anderson, both of whom have contracts beyond 2022, Stephenson seems one of the more promising players emerging from our Academy.

I know we’ll probably buy lots of players in 2022, but the three above are all ones I’d hang on to for now. Longelo, Cross and Thomson though? I’m not so sure.

Cross, 20, came from Schalke 04 with a big reputation and is yet to fulfil that. He has time on his side due to age but having not really made a breakthrough it would be no surprise to see the centre-back released.

Longelo is an interesting one. Now 22-year-old he’s made 55 appearances for the Under 23s scoring seven goals. But, he’s never been involved with the first team. He came to us from West Ham in 2018, so he’s been here three years now. Crawley Town are apparently interested so perhaps his days are numbered after not quite kicking on as we’d have hoped.

Thomson is one that came from Queens Park at age 16 for a fee of £54,000. I guess you’d say that’s ‘chicken feed’ monetary wise. But it was a lot for a 16-year-old at the time and one that was being touted by both Celtic and Rangers. He has played seven games for the U-23s and at only age 18 may well be worth another couple of years to give him a chance.

Football is full of youngsters rejected by Clubs who go onto other Clubs and find a way through. I’m sure we, despite our new wealth, should ensure that we don’t allow potential superstars to leave and show that our new ownership really does mean we’re looking bottom to top and not just top only.

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