CHAMPIONSHIP side Bristol City have snapped-up Forest Green hot- prospect Aden Baldwin for an undisclosed fee.

The 18-year-old central defender was being tracked by a raft of Championship clubs, but has agreed an 18-month deal at Ashton Gate.

Spotted by Forest Green Academy boss Scott Bartlett at the age of 15, Baldwin spent two years training full-time, while also completing his studies at South Gloucestershire & Stroud College.

Bartlett said: "I’m very happy for Aden. I signed him when he was 15 for the under-16 squad in the summer of 2012, and he then moved into full- time training with our Academy programme at SGS College and he developed very quickly. This season he has been working with the manager (Ady Pennock) and the first-team boys, and he developed again in that environment.

"Who knows where it will take him, but he’s a fantastic lad from a good family and he's turning out to be a fantastic young pro. I think he has a really bright future.

“It's a good thing for our club and our youth programme. It would have been easy to keep Aden, but we all felt it was the right move for everyone involved. 

"Bristol City have made a long-term commitment to him, and we are satisfied that he’s going to a good club and we all wish him the very best."

Despite being pleased to see Baldwin progress, chairman Dale Vince is convinced future young players will remain at the New Lawn when promotion to the Football League is achieved.

He said: “We're very pleased for Aden – this is a great opportunity for him.

"It's also a milestone for the club and the Academy under manager Scott Bartlett.

“Our plan is to continue to develop great young players and bring them through the ranks – it’s an essential part of being a truly sustainable football club.

“Our next step will be to develop an under 21 squad, to bridge the gap between our Academy and first team. Unfortunately, we can't do that until we are promoted to the Football League, but that can't be very far away now.”

His impressive performances at youth level saw him feature in a number of pre-season friendlies for the first team squad, and at the end of his spell in the youth team he was offered his first professional contract by Ady Pennock, alongside fellow graduate, Louis McGrory.

Baldwin will now be part of the Bristol City U21s squad under former first team City boss Brian Tinnion.

Baldwin enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at National League South side Bath City earlier this season, and made his first team debut for FGR in an FA Trophy defeat at Havant & Waterlooville before Christmas.