SAM Cornish says it is a 'dream come true' to sign his first professional deal with Colchester United.

The 19-year-old midfielder has followed in the footsteps of fellow academy starlets Billy Cracknell and Harry Beadle in signing a one-year contract with the U's.

Cornish travelled to Tranmere Rovers with Colchester's first-team squad for their final game of the League Two season, earlier this month.

The teenager, who has been at the U's for the last ten years since under-nine level, was an unused substitute for the 0-0 draw at Prenton Park.

Cornish impressed for the U's under-23s throughout the 2020/21 Professional Development League season, and was rewarded by being named in the final matchday squad of the season.

Cornish told the U's website: "It's unreal, I was buzzing when I got the news.

"It's a dream come true, I've been working so hard for it and I'm really pleased.

"Hopefully I can make my debut and be in and around the first team a bit more like last year.

"I just want to be in and around the first team as much as possible, training wise, but hopefully I'd like to make my debut and play some more games for the club."

Cornish's new deal follows hot on the heels of his academy team-mate Cracknell penning his first professional contract.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Cracknell (pictured above) made his U's first-team debut as a second-half substitute in their 2-1 home win against Carlisle United, in March.

The teenager, who was also on the bench for Colchester's final game at Tranmere, captained the club's under-23 side throughout their Professional Development League season.

He also played under Wayne Brown for Maldon and Tiptree in their FA Cup exploits, over the past two seasons.

Cracknell told the U's website: "I'm absolutely delighted, it's a dream come true really. I'm just looking forward to the season to get started now.

"It was another dream come true to make my debut, and I'm hoping to kick on next season and be in and around the first team."

Beadle has also signed a one-year pro deal with Colchester after arriving from Charlton Athletic.

The 18-year-old defender spent the best part of a decade with the Addicks, where he knew current U's players Brendan Wiredu and Junior Tchamadeu.

He spent the final few weeks of the 2020-2021 season with the U's, having known he was leaving The Valley.

He told the U's website: "I had been there a long time and I learned a lot so I'm grateful to them, but I think it was best for me and them for me to come and join Colchester.

"I know a few of the boys from my time at Charlton, Brendan and Junior, and when I spoke to them, they told me it was a great club with a great manager.

"The club has got a real history of bringing young players through and I can't wait to get started here."