ASSISTANT Paul Maitland described the new deal signed by youngster Dane James as a “long-term” project.

The talented defender has put pen to paper on a fresh one-year contract at the Bob Lucas Stadium, having impressed during his first season with the club last term.

Having arrived during last summer’s pre-season, James featured in 14 games for the club’s reserves last term and also played a handful of fixtures in a short loan at Blandford United.

And, after putting in the hard yards, he got his chance in the first team during the latter stages of the campaign, starting in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division at St Ives back in April.

“Making his first-team debut at 16, we could see a lot of potential in him,” Maitland told Echosport, when confirming the signing.

“It is potential, but we are taking a calculated risk that, in the long-term, he has a lot of the right attributes to be successful.

“We have been clear with Dane and his dad that we are looking at this as more of a longer-term thing, rather than a move in the short-term.

“We are not going to be heaping too much pressure on him or setting him too many targets in terms of the first team, but he will very much be in our set-up and we will be looking to push him as a player over the next year and on into the future.

“Brad (Asagba, reserves’ boss) scouted him from Bridport and Dorchester, where he was playing his youth football, and managed to persuade him to come into training with us last pre-season. He has not really looked back since he first came in.

“We have been impressed with his attitude and his maturity for someone so young.”

James, who also captained Dorset Under-16s while coming through the youth ranks, was given a county cap by the Dorset FA in March 2016.

Maitland insists that the youngster will not be thrown in at the deep end at Weymouth next term, but claims that in every task James has been set to far, he has impressed.

“He has certain attributes that we like and there are certain things he can do that can make him an asset for us,” the Terras’ number two added.

“He has a lot to learn but his attitude is right and, for a 17-year-old, he has a lot of natural ability.

“He sees himself as a centre-half and I think longer term we probably do, but, with the rigours of the Southern Premier League, we have to be careful and nurture him.

“Whenever he has been set a challenge he has taken it on board and come out the other side every time.

“That’s why we believe giving him a contract and giving him some security, is both right for him and the club.”

Dorset Echo

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