Adam Baker has been challenged to break into City’s League Two plans next term.

The 18-year-old striker is the only one of the club’s apprentices to be offered a first professional contract.

And Phil Parkinson wants to see him knocking on the senior door as soon as possible.

Parkinson admitted it was hard to release so many of the youngsters – but felt that they had to be first-team ready to stand a chance.

By the same criteria, he has not thrown in any of the fringe players in the closing stages of the season.

But he is hoping Baker will show he is capable of making the jump from the youth ranks.

The City chief said: “We had to say in our heart of hearts that anybody who was offered a contract this year had to be in contention for the first team next year.

“Adam is an intelligent striker who’s done well this season when he’s played in the reserves. I’ve obviously seen a lot of him and he has earned his contract.

“He can take a lot of satisfaction at getting his first pro deal. It’s good news for him and now he needs to be ready to make a new start.

“He knows that this is the first step on the ladder. He hasn’t achieved anything yet.

“He has to come back fighting fit and strong for pre-season and I’m sure he will. We want him to push on straight away.”

Leeds-born Baker has played six times for the reserves, four from the start, and scored twice. He is expected to feature again in this afternoon’s home game with Scunthorpe.

Midfielder James Nanje will have a second chance to catch Parkinson’s eye after being invited back to train with City in pre-season.

Parkinson added: “We feel there is something there but we want to see him working alongside the pros.

“It’s very tough to say no to the other lads but they all took the news well.

“There were some good characters in the group and some were closer to contracts than others. But we wish them all the best. I hope they will come back into league football one day.”

Meanwhile, Parkinson is preparing his verdict on the senior players whose contracts are up in the summer.

He said: “I’ve got to sit down with the two chairmen once the season has finished and look at the squad. Obviously we need to improve.

“My focus is on the last two games and preparing properly because we want to end well. But then we’ll make sure we put plans in place to make this squad a really strong one going into next year.”