Teenage defender Ben Williamson has left Scottish Premiership side Ross County.
The 19-year-old, who was on loan at Highland League clubs Nairn County and Brora Rangers last season, is moving on after his contract expired.
The news comes as the Staggies officially confirmed Canadian international midfielder Harry Paton has also left the club.
— Harry Paton (@harry_paton98) June 23, 2022
Williamson is an academy graduate and became part of the first-team pool in 2020 and made his debut in November of that year against Elgin City.
County, meanwhile, have announced four academy graduates have joined on full-time apprenticeships.
Andrew Macleod, Dylan Smith, Connall Ewan and George Robesten have all signed two-year apprenticeships which will see them train full-time during the next stage of their development.
Andrew Macleod is the latest player from the Western Isles to join Ross County, following in the footsteps of Matthew Wright and Adam MacKinnon.
Joining the club at under-14 level, Macleod is a central midfielder who will look to learn from the wealth of experience in the heart of Ross County’s midfield.
🔵Following the expiry of their contracts Harry Paton & Ben Williamson have left Ross County FC.
We would like to thank both players for the commitment, dedication and professionalism they showed in their time at the club and wish them both well💙 pic.twitter.com/Uunp378vAY
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) June 23, 2022
Forward Robesten becomes County’s first academy graduate from Shetland.
Ewan has been with the academy for four years, putting in impressive displays at centre-back, while Smith, who has just turned 16, is another player who has come through the academy and County think he has real potential to develop into a top defender.
Boys’ ‘great credit’ to their families
Manager Malky Mackay praised the group for earning their deals as they aim to further progress as professional footballers.
He said: “After a couple of challenging years for academy players during Covid, it is fantastic for us to be able to offer these opportunities to our young players who have exemplified real ability with a terrific attitude.
“We have had the four boys with us since day one of pre-season and their focus and work ethic is of great credit to their families.
“It’s important for a club like Ross County that we have a conveyor belt of young talent from the Highlands and islands, as it follows the strong tradition of this football club in developing local talent into exciting young footballers.
“It is also important to recognise all of the coaches and volunteers who have given their time in developing Andrew, Dylan, Connall and George over the last few years and the importance of their role in each players development.”
‘Great platform’ for development
Academy manager Gordon Duff, meanwhile, feels the youngsters have the ideal attitudes to kick on at the club.
He said: “It is fantastic for all four of the boys who have worked extremely hard in their time with our academy.
“They are hungry and want to keep pushing themselves and this is a great platform for each of them to do so.
“These four boys follow in the footsteps of Ross Munro, Josh Reid, Matthew Wright, Adam MacKinnon and Ryan MacLeman, who have all come through our academy in recent years.
“I would like to thank their families along with the coaches and volunteers that have worked with the boys to help their development.”