Derby County have bolstered their Academy ranks with two signings from non-league clubs.

Joining the Rams on a full-time basis are forwards Luke Thomas (Cheltenham Town) and Lewis Walker (Ilkeston FC) after Derby agreed undisclosed fees with their respective clubs.

Thomas, 16, scored 19 goals for the Robins’ youth teams this season and has signed two-and-a-half year professional contract, with the club having the option of extending that by a further year.

The Rams beat off stiff competition from a number of Barclays Premier League, Sky Bet Championship and European clubs to secure the services of the sought after prospect, who turns 17 next month.

Thomas’ form for the Cheltenham youth sides saw him allocated a first team squad number by manager Gary Johnson as well as being included in a number of his matchday squads in the Vanarama National League and Emirates FA Cup.

Walker, who is the son of former England international defender Des Walker, has joined Derby on a two-and-a-half year deal despite interest from a number of other clubs.

One of the stars of the Robins’ youth system, the 17-year-old, scoring five goals en route, helped Ilkeston reach the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup earlier this season, where they bowed out after a narrow 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United.

His form with the Ilkeston youth groups saw him make his first team debut in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League in October last year.


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