A TRIO of youth team players have earned professional deals under new Latics boss Keith Curle.

Vani Da Silva, Junior Luamba and Will Sutton have all signed senior contracts and will be included in Curle's squad for the 2021/22 season after impressing the head coach last season, as well as the Academy staff during the last two years.

Defender Sutton, who trained with the senior squad last season and made his Football League debut from the bench against Forest Green on the final day of the season, has signed a one-year deal.

The Under 18s captain had previously made a promising impact on his senior debut in November 2020 against Bradford City in the EFL Trophy.

Luamba, who has also signed a one-year contract, made his full debut against Grimsby Town earlier in the campaign and led the line, putting up a good battle against experienced defenders.

The youngster also had an impact off the bench in the home win over Exeter City and came close to getting on the scoresheet.

Luamba has impressed as a strong, physical striker that links up well with the midfield.

Da Silva has initially signed a short-term deal until January after making his senior debut last season, playing in the Carabao Cup and the EFL Trophy before going out on loan to National League North side Curzon Ashton before their campaign was cut short due to coronavirus restrictions.

The teenager is a versatile player who can operate up front or on either wing.

Head coach Curle said: "I'm a firm believer in giving young players a chance and a platform to showcase their talent.

"They'll be a part of our plans over pre-season where they will get the opportunity to earn their place in the squad.

"They'll need to be ready physically and mentally for the challenges ahead but I've seen something in each of them in my time here to give them a chance and sometimes that's all a player asks for, an opportunity, which I'm sure they'll want to take as they start out on their journey of being a professional."

And Head of Academy Paul Murray is delighted that the club is showing its faith in youth.

"The lads deserve this opportunity for how they’ve conducted themselves on and off the pitch for the past two years," he said.

"It’s fantastic that the club has given them a platform to earn themselves a career in the game and gives players at every age group in the academy the belief that hard work does pay off. We're pleased we've managed to have graduates from the programme make the step up as that's our ultimate aim as a department."

In addition, Jack Williams has been offered an extension to his scholarship after an injury-ravaged season.

The winger has spent several months on the sidelines so has been offered a third year with the youth team after making an impressive return to the U18s last season.

However, Mackenzie Chapman, Drew Baker, Sean Higgins, Robert Oseh, Ben Hough and Callum Speed will all leave the club after coming to the end of their scholarship.

A club statement read: "We’d like to thank them for their efforts, dedication and professional attitude during their time at Latics."

Meanwhile, defender Oliver Kilner has joined the club as a second-year scholar, replacing Gustav Hemmingsen after he decided to leave Latics.

Kilner arrives from Manchester United and head of recruitment for the Academy, Paul Ogden is delighted with the signing, who featured in the final few games of the season.

"Oliver is a versatile defender who can play all across the back four," Ogden explained.

"He has been well schooled at Manchester United, being in their set-up since May 2012. He is extremely competitive and has a good understanding of defensive principles.

"We've monitored his progress for some time and the qualities he possesses are a perfect fit for the group. Oliver travels well with the ball and is very positive when in possession, playing off both feet. I am excited to see how he progresses and with hard work can hopefully be knocking on the first team door sooner rather than later."