HIGHLY-RATED Academy duo Dwight McNeil and James Clarke have signed their first professional deals at Burnley.

Attacking midfielder McNeil has signed a two-year deal with the option of a further year, while defender Clarke has signed a 12-month contract with the option of another year.

The 18-year-olds have followed in the footsteps of Oliver Younger in landing a contract at the end of their two-year scholarships, while left-back Ali Koiki, also 18, has signed a 12-month contract extension with an option.

Both McNeil and Clarke have featured regularly for Michael Duff's under-23 side this season, with the former also part of the matchday squad for the Premier League trip to Swansea in February.

“I’m really chuffed, but hopefully this is only a stepping stone and the start of it with more to come in the future,” said McNeil.

“I think it’s been a better season than I expected, being with the under-23s regularly, and training with the first team.

“When you get the chance to do that and see that, you realise it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life.”

In March Clarke capped his own impressive season with a first call-up and cap for Republic of Ireland Under-18s.

“It’s always been a dream to be a professional footballer. Even though I’ve played football all my life to finally say ‘I’m a professional footballer’ means a lot,” he said.

“Obviously I’m not there yet, though. I’ve got a long way to go and hopefully I can kick on next season.

“I think I’ve improved a lot from last season. Playing under Duffo improved me and playing under him again as the under-23 manager has allowed me to push on. Playing right-back and centre-back I’ve been able to develop in both positions.”

Koiki signed for the Clarets in 2016 after being spotted playing local football in Croydon, having previously been released as an 11-year-old by Crystal Palace.

Of his new deal, he said: “I’m very happy. It’s a big thing, coming where I’ve come from. It’s another step and I just want to continue to improve.

“Playing so regularly this season has been a good thing and hopefully next year I can progress and improve myself further.

“To come into a new training ground every day, where everything is modern, is fantastic and this is a really good place to be.”