A QUARTET of Colchester United youngsters have signed their first development contracts.

Jake Hutchinson, Callum Coulter, Al-Amin Kazeem and Diogo Freitas Gouveia have completed their two-year apprenticeships and have now all signed new professional terms with the U's and will now look to impress further, next season.

Colchester's director of football Tony Humes told the U's official website: "Congratulations to the four of them for the hard work and dedication they've shown - they all deserve the chance to show us they can make the next step.

"They will have to continue that hard work now amongst the U23s squad, and of course hopefully the first team group in time.

"They've shown that they have the qualities we're looking for, and the time they have all spent playing competitive football whilst away from us at other clubs has been really beneficial."

The talented quartet have each spent the past two years as full-time apprentices as part of Colchester's youth team.

But they have all had experience out on loan in non-league football, in addition to playing for Colchester's under-23 side in the Professional Development League.

Hutchinson had experience of being with the U's first-team squad, this season.

Having moved to the club from Brighton and Hove Albion, the promising striker has steadily improved his standing at Colchester throughout his apprenticeship, establishing himself as an important figure in the under-18s.

The teenager, who travelled with the U's first-team squad for their game at Morecambe earlier this season, has earned many outings for the under-23 side.

He has gained experience of men’s football via loan spells with Maldon and Tiptree, Grays Athletic, Brightlingsea Regent and Hitchin Town.

Hutchinson's achievements on and off the pitch were acknowledged in March when he was nominated for a League Football Education award.

Kazeem also had a loan spell at Maldon and Tiptree last season and was involved in both of their FA Cup ties against League Two sides Leyton Orient and Newport County.

Goalkeeper Coulter, was another youngster who was involved with John McGreal's first-team squad, this season.

Along with Maldon, he has also had loan spells at Brantham Athletic and Bowers and Pitsea.

Freitas Gouveia has also spent time playing on loan at Maldon under U's promotion hero Wayne Brown and has also had loan stints at Hitchin Town and Brightlingsea Regent.