Ipswich footballer Josh Grommen has left Western Pride to join Philippines power-house Ceres-Negros FC who will participate in the 2017 Asian Football Confederation Cup.

The 20-year old joined Pride in October looking for first-team football and a continuation of his development after a stint with Philippines professional side Stallion FC.

“What attracted me to return to Ipswich and join Western Pride was the idea that the club is based on, which is to develop younger players,” Grommen said at the time.

“They give young players the opportunity to progress to a higher level in football as already has been shown by three former Pride players who are now within the A-League youth system.”

Grommen expressed a desire to help Pride make the finals of the PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues as he worked towards a return to professional football, but such a move came quicker than player and club expected.

The centre-back has traded in Briggs Rd for a chance to test himself in continental cup football at Ceres, who are drawn against Singapore’s Tampines Rovers, Vietnamese champions Hanoi T&T and Malaysia Super League runners-up Felda United.

Grommen is also a Philippines U23 international who has recently trained with the senior national team.

Pride coach Graham Harvey said Grommen was right not to pass up a quick return to professional football.

“This is a big opportunity for Josh to in the AFC Cup,” Harvey said.

“Josh is nothing but professional in his approach to furthering his career and whilst he was only with us a short time he was fantastic to work with.”

While Harvey was sad to lose Grommen after only two pre-season games, he added the move was consistent with Pride’s mission to help young players to become professionals.

“Pride has never stood in the way of any young players furthering themselves as we thoroughly encourage it,” Harvey said.

“Being a professional footballer is the goal for so many of our young players and it’s exciting that Josh has this opportunity again.

Harvey indicated Pride had already identified defensive reinforcements with signings to be announced shortly.

Meanwhile several former Pride players have continued their development at professional clubs in recent weeks.

Harrison Sawyer scored a hat-trick for Newcastle Jets against Sydney FC in the Foxtel National Youth League on the weekend, while Joe Duckworth came off the bench to help Brisbane Roar Youth gain an away draw against Adelaide United.

Papuan New Guinea international Nigel Dabingyaba, who made a dazzling late-season cameo for Pride late season has signed a professional contract with Penang FA in the Malaysian Super League where he will line-up with former Roar utility Diogo Ferreira.

The most unexpected road to professional football came from former Pride U20 player Emile Damey who has joined joined Kuwaiti top-tier side Burgan SC on loan from Gibraltarian club Manchester 62.