Local lad Blair the latest to sign professional City deal
- Credit: Archant
Norwich City have continued their academy contract news with the announcement of goalkeeper Sam Blair signing a professional deal until 2023.
The 18-year-old local lad, from Aylsham, has been with the club since his under-10 age group and has been a regular starter for City's U18s in recent seasons - making his debut at that level at 16.
Blair started the 3-0 win at West Ham in U18 Premier League South and the 4-2 win over Wolves in the FA Youth Cup third round prior to Christmas.
The U18s, overseen by head of football development Steve Weaver, are due to resume their league campaign at West Brom on Saturday but have seen their home Youth Cup tie against West Ham postponed for the time being due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blair has been on the bench for the U23s on several occasions but is yet to make his debut at that level.
Last season he experienced the pressures of playing in front of fans at Carrow Road, as City's U18s beat Newcastle 3-2 thanks to a Josh Martin hat-trick and were then cheered on by over 3,000 supporters in the fourth round, only to be beaten 2-0 by Manchester United.
The contract follows on from new deals for two team-mates on Wednesday, with forwards Abu Kamara and Jonathan Rowe committing until 2023.
Blair's deal strengthens the Canaries' goalkeeper ranks further, with academy prospect Daniel Barden impressing during Saturday's 2-0 win over Coventry in the absence of Tim Krul and Michael McGovern.
City are expected to bring in experienced competition for number one Krul as McGovern is set to miss much of the remainder of the season after recent hamstring surgery.
Behind Barden is regular U23 keeper Jon McCracken, who last year signed an extension until 2022 and spoke about his hopes of loan experience.
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Aston Oxborough is hoping to return soon from the Achilles injury which scuppered a loan move to League Two side Salford City at the start of the season. The 22-year-old is also under contract until 2022, with the club holding the option of a further year, after helping Wealdstone to win the National League South title while on loan last season.
Blair is likely to now have his sights on a loan deal in the future, with fellow keeper Joe Rose currently following Barden's example with a loan at step four of the non-league pyramid with Bury Town, who is under contract until 2023 and with the club having the option for a further 12 months.
“It’s a very proud moment for me and my family, obviously it’s been a long journey up until here, hopefully it can go on for a lot longer! I’m just very pleased to be here.
“It’s great, there’s so many opportunities available to train and play with different squads, there’s lots of opportunity for that.”
“It’s a great place to be at the moment, especially for goalkeepers, there’s a clear pathway here if you work hard enough and put in the performances," he told City's official website.
“Because we’re so close to everything, you can see it all happening in front of you, so it really gives you that extra bit of motivation to do it yourself.