CHAIRMAN Colin Gordon has hailed Harriers' academy after midfielder Milan Butterfield became the latest prospect to win a first professional contract with the club.

Butterfield, 21, this week signed an 18-month contract at Aggborough after breaking into the first team following an impressive spell in the academy’s under-23s set-up.

It comes just days after Harry Higginson, 20, signed a similar deal after progressing through to the under-23s from the club's under-18s and under-19 teams where he is currently completing a foundation degree as part of the club's education provision.

The duo have already proved to be popular players with the club’s supporters, and Gordon was thrilled with the news that the youngsters would be committing their futures to the Reds.

The academy system, which provides full-time training alongside further and higher education courses, has already produced the likes of Luke Maxwell, who went on to play for Birmingham City, and Tyrone Williams, who now plays for Solihull Moors among others.

“It’s a great sign,” Gordon said. “We see this as a massive plus for everything that we’re doing with our education system.

“I think, in the past, this model has just been about numbers and bums on seats and it wasn’t about whether you went on to be a top player or not.

“Now, we are genuinely looking for top talent and our trials are bursting at the seams.

“We have players with us from Ireland, America and Bermuda, so it isn’t just talent that’s been discarded from Albion, Villa and Walsall – we’re looking around the world now, and we want to give the opportunity.

“Success stories like Harry and Milan provide the opportunity for others to think ‘if they can do it, so can’t I’.

“We are going to be working very hard to make sure that this isn’t a one off, and that it’s the norm.”

Of the swift popularity that the two young players have began to drum up with supporters, Gordon added: “Harry is someone that you know who would run through brick walls for the club and I think Milan has proved the same.

“That’s the kind of commitment you want, and they’re absolutely desperate to succeed.”