LATICS youngster Benny Couto has signed a three-year deal with the club.

The 18-year-old, who is in the second year of his scholarship, becomes the latest to be fast tracked to a professional contract, following on from Harry Vaughan.

The attack minded left back impressed on his senior debut against Salford City in the Papa John’s Trophy in August.

He went on to be instrumental in the derby win over Rochdale, playing his part in a clean sheet and also having a hand in Davis Keillor-Dunn’s winner.

On signing his first professional deal, which ties him to the club until 2024, Couto said: "It’s a dream come true to sign a professional contract and it's a very proud day for my family and friends.

"I’m buzzing that I’ve been given an opportunity in the first team and that the gaffer has shown faith in myself. I just want to thank everyone for their support to get me to this point.

"I think that I’ve performed well, so hopefully I can keep it up and become a regular."

Head coach Keith Curle expressed his delight at seeing another of the club’s youth team products make the step up.

"I've seen Benny mature over the summer and he's a real asset to the team,” he said.

“He's taken his chance and it was only right we showed real faith in his ability as the current crop of youngsters making their way through are a real credit to the football club and its supporters.

"He follows in the footsteps of the likes of Junior (Luamba), Vani (Da Silva) Will (Sutton) and Harry who have all adapted well to our training and playing methods and as a club we're excited to see their continued development over the coming season."

Interim head of Academy Conor Marlin added: "Benny’s development has been a really positive in many ways, firstly with our head of Recruitment Paul Ogden identifying him at U16 and the potential to convert him to a left back and then our coaching team to teach him the game.

"Ultimately his attitude and desire to be successful has seen him progress very well over the last few months and now he looks the part in our first team and we hope he will have a bright future in the game."