AARON Collins has become the third academy star to sign up for next season with Newport County AFC, following in the footsteps of Kieran Parselle and Tom Owen-Evans.

Collins made three substitute appearances for the County first team in the 2014/2015 season and also made his Wales under-19s debut last month.

But the 18-year-old so nearly slipped through the Exiles’ net after not being offered a scholarship at Rodney Parade last summer.

The youngster took a job at fast food joint McDonalds in Malpas to cover the costs of travelling to and from training before youth development coach Mike Flynn intervened and he signed his first pro contract last September.

Since then Collins has gone from strength to strength in the County youth ranks and impressed on the international stage and he can’t wait to work with new manager Terry Butcher next season.

“I am really looking forward to next season under the new manager” he told the club’s official website.

“I’d like to say a special thank you to Michael for all of his help and guidance over the past year.”

Former Exiles boss Jimmy Dack was also a big fan of Collins, comparing the forward to a young George Boyd – now starring in the Premier League with Burnley.

Dack told the Argus last month: “I had an 18-year old George Boyd when I was at Stevenage and if Aaron Collins keeps working hard I see some similarities between those players in terms of the way he runs with the ball and carries it.

“But he needs to do everything right to live up to his potential.

Dack added: “We’ve offered four young players contracts and I think that is great for the club, home grown boys appreciate where the club has come from and what it means to play for their local team, because they have it in their hearts.”

Collins, Parselle and Owen-Evans join senior stars Joe Day, Kevin Feely, Mark Byrne and Yan Klukowski in County’s confirmed squad for next season.

But Wales under-17s star Regan Poole, who made 12 first team appearances under Justin Edinburgh and Dack, has yet to agree to a new deal and could move on this summer.

The 16-year-old was close to a move to Championship club Fulham in January and has also attracted interest from Cardiff City and Bristol City in recent weeks.