TOWN today agreed extended contracts with another three of their talented youngsters which will keep them at the McAlpine through to the summer of 2006.
The day after 20-year-old Jon Worthington put pen to paper on the same length of deal, his fellow midfielder Andy Holdsworth and defenders Anthony Lloyd and David Mirfin also signed up.
Holdsworth and Lloyd, both from the Pontefract area, are 19, while Mirfin, from Sheffield, is 18, and securing lengthier terms with the trio is a key sign of manager Peter Jackson's future plans.
Holdsworth, currently working his way back to full fitness after a back injury, was in action in yesterday's private practice match against Grimsby, who won 3-2, with on-loan striker Fola Onibuje getting both Town goals.
He made his debut in the 2-1 home Division III win over Bristol Rovers in August, and has made 15 appearances, scoring once, in the 4-2 Carling Cup second-round win at Sunderland.
Lloyd, primarily a left-back but also used in central defence and midfield in junior matches, made his debut in the 3-0 home win over Leyton Orient in September.
Saturday's appearance in the 0-0 home draw with Cheltenham, when he was named in the starting side ahead of experienced club captain Rob Edwards, was his seventh.
Mirfin, a third-year Academy player, first made the team for the final match of last season, a 1-1 McAlpine draw with Oldham in Division II, and this time around, has made 14 appearances.
He is currently working his way back to fitness after suffering a hamstring strain during training.
Twelve months ago Mirfin was playing in an FA Youth Cup tie at Hull - the current Under 18 side are in McAlpine action against West Ham in the third round of this season's competition tonight (7.00) - and the childhood Sheffield Wednesday supporter can hardly believe the progress he has made.
"I was chuffed to bits when the manager called me in and made the offer," he said.
"I knew my Academy contract was up at the end of this season and it's good for me to get things sorted out now, because I can knuckle down and concentrate on the football.
"This is a great club, and I think all the lads are enjoying themselves this season and as far as I'm concerned, I just want to get myself fit again and do everything I can to secure a regular place."
Edwards (hamstring), striker Adnan Ahmed (ankle) and centre-back Steve Yates (suspension) all gained valuable match practice in the Storthes Hall work-out with Grimsby.
Town are hoping for a bumper crowd for tonight's Youth Cup tie, when admission is £3 adults and £1 concessions. The ticket office and club shop will be open right up to kick-off and the match must be decided on the night. The winners will be at home to Derby or Chester-le-Street.