FOUR graudates from the Thistle Weir Youth Academy have signed their first professional contracts at Firhill.

James Lyon, Mason McCready, Gospel Ocholi and Billy Owens have all penned two-year deals at Partick Thistle, with Lyon and Owens both making their first-team debuts in the second half of the season.

Jags manager Ian McCall congratulated the quartet as they entered the first-team fold at Thistle - but warned that the hard work will soon begin in earnest.

“I’m really pleased that we are welcoming four Thistle Weir Youth Academy graduates into the club," he told the club's website. "Billy, Gospel, Mason and James have been part of our first team bubble since we returned to action in March and they have been a credit to themselves and academy.

“The hard work starts now though, and we are looking forward to working closer with them over the coming two years to help them improve further as players in the weeks and months ahead.

"There are some bright futures ahead and it is up to us to work hard with them to help them develop as much as they can.”

Scott Allison, the director of the Thistle Weir Youth Academy, revealed his pride after watching four of his players take their first steps in the professional game.

“2020 was a really tough year for all young players with the pandemic halting structured youth football for the best part of 12 months," he said. "Billy, Gospel, Mason and James trained with the first team in the early part of the season when youth football was paused.

"We told them to have positive energy, work hard, show respect and listen to the advice of the staff and senior players to make the most of the opportunity. They did that and integrated well with the first team group as the season progressed.

"A number of senior players informed us of how well the boys were doing and earning the respect of those players can be a huge factor in a young players development.  They have worked really hard to earn their modern apprenticeships.

“We have been working closely with the first team staff to ensure the links between the youth teams and the first team are as strong as possible now youth football has returned.

"The manager has been in attendance a a number of youth games in recent weeks and I know he sees potential in many of the young players we are continuing to develop through the academy programme.

“Everyone at the academy takes real pride that another four graduates are now making their first steps into senior football with Partick Thistle.

"We hope the work we are doing with the young players and the close link we have with the first team will ensure more young players get opportunities as the club continues to move forward.”