COLCHESTER United have handed a two-and-a-half-year deal to youth team captain Alex Gilbey.

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Dagenham-born Gilbey, who has lived in Colchester for most of his life, has so impressed U’s boss John Ward, and Head of Youth Tony Humes, that the Essex club decided to sign him long-term.

Central midfielder Gilbey, who describes himself as a box-to-box player, will continue to train with the youth team set-up for the rest of the season, but will then join the seniors.

Manager Ward confirmed: “Alex Gilbey has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal, which is excellent and something that I have not done too often with young players of his age.

“He’s only been in the football club professionally for six months, but we have seen enough of him to recognise that we have got a very good player in the making.

“This is just a start, I’ve got real encouragement from the chairman (Robbie Cowling) to promote within the youth we have got, and push it forward.

“There are opportunities here and are looking to progress that quality.

“Alex is a local boy. He lives down the road and can literally walk to the ground.

“His family have supported the club and Alex has been here since he’s been a young boy.

“I’ve seen enough of him to think - let’s go further,” added Ward.

Gilbey, who attended Gilberd School in Colchester, is currently in the first year of his two-year scholarship. He only recently turned 17.

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