Bailey Wright has signed a two-and-a-half year professional deal with Championship bottom side Preston, with the club holding an option for a further 12 months.
The 18-year-old now looks set to head out on loan having made two appearances for the Lilywhites this season.
Australian-born Wright played in the victories over Stockport and Bradford in the Carling Cup and North End boss Darren Ferguson hopes the youngster will continue to develop.
Ferguson said: "The lad has done really well and we have all been happy with the progress that he has made.
"The natural step up now for Bailey is to be given a professional contract and the lad has deserved it.
"We are now keen to give Bailey more experience so we will be looking to get him out on loan to gather some first-team experience as he continues to develop as a player."