TEENAGE Australian defender Bailey Wright has signed a two-and-a-half year professional contract with English Championship club Preston North End.
The Melbourne-born 18-year-old, who has made two appearances for the Preston first team this season, has been handed a professional deal as a second-year scholar in a sign of his good progress.
Former Under-17 Australia international Wright had been an integral part of North End's double-winning youth team last season.
Preston manager Darren Ferguson said the club was delighted to secure Wright's services until 2013 and revealed they hoped to send him out on loan in the short-term.
"The lad has done really well and we have all been happy with the progress that he has made," Ferguson said.
"The natural step up now for Bailey is to be given a professional contract and the lad has deserved it.
"We are now keen to give Bailey more experience so we will be looking to get him out on loan to gather some first team experience as he continues to develop as a player."
Wright told the Preston Player he was rapt to have his immediate future sorted.
"It is a good feeling to know that I am going to be here for a few more years," Wright said. "Hopefully now I will be able to establish myself in the team in the coming years.
"In pre-season, I went away to Spain with the first team to Spain and was fortunate enough to have made my debut against Stockport in the Carling Cup and then play again against Bradford.
"I have been on the bench for a few games which has been good and also training with the first team every week."
Wright added: "I found out about two or three weeks ago when the gaffer pulled me into the office and said that the club will be offering me a professional contract and that I've been doing well.
"It is a really good feeling."
Wright also paid tribute to the Preston youth team staff for assisting his development as a player.