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NEW ZEALAND – YOUNG TALENT LANDS FIRST PRO CONTRACT

Budding All Whites striker Chris Wood has been rewarded with his first professional contract at West Bromwich Albion.

The 17-year-old has penned a two-year deal, plus a further two years option in the club’s favour.

Wood’s contract completes a rapid rise to prominence for the young Auckland-born, Waikato-raised ace, who is currently winging his way to South Africa to meet up with Ricki Herbert’s All Whites squad ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Albion Manager Tony Mowbray said: "I’m delighted that Chris has been rewarded with his contract.

"Hopefully, he’s the first of a handful of young players who will be signing pro contracts over the summer.

"We feel the future is very bright for the players who are now starting to emerge from the academy, some of whom were on the bench at Blackburn on Sunday.

"There’s a real positive feeling coming from the academy. We possess some young, talented individuals.

"They’ve all got a lot of hard work ahead of them but they’ll hopefully have bright futures in the game."

Wood, who made his second Barclays Premier League appearance for the already-relegated club late on at Blackburn, was joined on the bench at Ewood Park by two academy team-mates.

Wood only joined the Academy last summer but has since cut his teeth at Under-18, reserves and Premier League level, making a surprise senior debut as a second-half sub at Portsmouth six weeks ago.

The former U-17 international has also enjoyed a fairytale call-up to New Zealand’s 23-man Confederations Cup squad and could make his international debut against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on June 3 in the first of three warm-ups the All Whites play in Africa ahead their tournament opener against Europeans Champions Spain on June 14 in Rustenburg.

Wood was recently named the Nike Young Men’s Player of the Year at the 2008 New Zealand Football Awards ceremony in Auckland.

Story courtesy of NZF Media.

For the latest news in NZ Football visit www.nzfootball.co.nz

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