Coppell contracts young Royal

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Reading academy attacking midfielder James Henry has signed his first professional contract with the club.

The 17-year-old has signed a two-year deal with Steve Coppell's side, where he has been since the age of eight.

The Scotland youth international made waves scoring on his reserve team debut against Millwall last year, but a cruciate ligament injury then ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Such a serious injury has proved a challenge for the youngster, especially so early in his career, but it is one he has taken in his stride.

"It's been tough, and it's not been great to miss out a year of my career, but it's given me a chance to work on things like my upper body strength and balance that I perhaps wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise," Henry reflected.

"Mentally it's been a good challenge to be presented with at such a young age, and hopefully in the long-term the whole experience will make me a better player."

Academy manager Eamonn Dolan has great faith in his player and feels his loyalty to the club will earn him just rewards in the future.

"James is a very special player, but also a special kid. He personifies what I feel a young player should be - he can deal with a football, he's a serious athlete but he's also a warrior who wants to win and be first," Dolan explained.

"Last year James had the opportunity to leave for a big club, but he remained loyal to Reading and wants to play for Reading Football Club. We'll make sure that he's given every opportunity to succeed."