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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Dundee United sign Ayr's Conway
Ayr midfielder Craig Conway
Craig Conway has made 82 appearances for Ayr
Dundee United have signed Ayr United's Craig Conway on a pre-contract agreement - and given 10 of their own under-17 team professional deals.

United have billed it as their greatest investment in youth since the 1980s and is further indication of a move away from highly-paid experienced players.

Midfielder Conway, 20, has signed a three-year deal subject to a medical.

United boss Craig Brewster said: "Craig is young and ambitious and is the type of player that we can develop further."

Ayr are due compensation, which will be determined by an independent panel after the Second Division club rejected an amount offered by United.

Conway, who joined Ayr in August 2002, can play either wide right or wide left.
Youth development perhaps suffered as a consequence of changes in the game
Dundee United statement

He has played 82 times for Ayr and has become a regular starter in his preferred wide right position.

"While he still has a lot to learn and is not yet the finished article, he has a hunger to learn and succeed," said Brewster.

Meanwhile, Ryan McCord, Fraser Milligan and Sean Fleming have been promoted to United's under-19 squad from their Dundee centre.

Scott Paterson, Neil McMechan, Philip McGrath and Keith Watson arrive from their West Lothian & Edinburgh centre.

And Chris Jeffrey, Gordon Pope and Scott Mathieson have been signed from their Glasgow centre.

United's website stated: "Over the years, Dundee United has been renowned for its youth policy.

"Indeed, that was the foundation for its tremendous success of the late seventies and eighties.

"The eighties' signings included the six players who were in the Scotland Under-16 squad that reached the final of the Fifa World Cup in 1989.

"Gary Bollan and Andy McLaren were amongst them and players like Duncan Ferguson and Christian Dailly subsequently augmented that.

"During the 90s, youth development perhaps suffered as a consequence of changes in the game.

"But, in recent years, a considerable effort has gone into this area and the club is now hopeful that the fruits of this effort will begin to be seen in the coming years."

Seventeen-year-old striker David Goodwillie has already broken into the first team this season.

"So it can be claimed that this age group is potentially the most productive one the club has ever had," added the statement.

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