Exeter City youngster Ed James has been handed a new one-year contract extension as a reward for his continued growth, according to manager Gary Caldwell.

The 19-year-old defender has four first team appearances under his belt, with three of those coming in the EFL Trophy and only one this season, but he has developed well in two loan spells away from St James Park.

Sending players such as James on loan to local non-league clubs to experience men’s first team football is all part of the career development programme at St James Park and James has excelled in his year with Southern League Premier Division Dorchester Town and Weston-super-Mare of National South.

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“I’m really, really happy, it gives me more time to work on myself,” James said. “For a lot of players towards the end of the season it can be a scary time as you’re rushing yourself to earn another contract, but this gives me that security and time to keep on improving.

“I feel like I have had a really good loan this year and kept on getting better and I think that is a big part of why I have been offered the contract. The loans are really important, I’ve had a lot of men’s football and that has helped me a lot.

“I feel like next year I will be really comfortable in the men’s game. I want to work hard in the off season and come back as fit as possible and put myself in the best possible position to be in and around the first team.”

Goal celebrations for Ed James of Exeter City u18s during the FA Youth Cup First Round Match between Exeter City u18s and Newport County u18s at St James Park, Exeter on 26 October 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Caldwell added: “Ed has had a very good first season in and around the first team squad. He will be the first to tell you he found pre-season very tough, but he showed his character and really dug in and worked hard.

“Right throughout the season there has been constant growth and improvement in aspects of his game. We have extended beyond his year because we feel centre-halves are a really strong position in the team and to develop Ed will be really important. We don’t want to push him too quickly.”

Meanwhile, the sold out signs are up at St James Park with all tickets for City’s last home game of the season against Oxford United now snapped up. The Grecians are in a great run of form right now and are undefeated in eight heading into Saturday’s penultimate match of the campaign at Northampton Town.

Oxford, meanwhile, are chasing a play-off place and will be well-supported in Devon having sold out their away allocation. Supporters are reminded that the final game of the season kicks-off at the earlier time of 12.30pm.

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