Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton believes that young debutant Cian Hayes is someone to be excited about.
Hayes came on for Josh Morris with just over 15 minutes to go in the 5-2 win over Oldham Athletic in the Leasing.com Trophy in midweek.
The 16-year-old substitute’s late debut appearance means he is now the youngest-ever Fleetwood first-team player.
“There’s something special about Cian,” Barton said of Hayes.
“It’s visible the minute you see him play.
“There’s a lot of coaching that goes on at academies, you see similar players that are produced by football academies.
“Then you do get the odd player that does come along and gets you out of your seat.
“You heard the crowd. A lot of people tonight probably came out to watch him and they’re the Fleetwood faithful that have seen him play in the youth teams and see him progress along with Billy Crellin.
“Billy’s obviously a Fleetwood boy, Cian’s from Preston, but he’s someone the fans will get excited about.”
Barton saw a performance way beyond the years of the 16-year-old.
Oldham named a side with some senior players involved but that didn’t faze the Poolfoot graduate.
Although not yet a full-fledged graduate of Fleetwood’s ever-expanding and performing youth system, the Town head coach doesn’t think it’ll be too long before he is knocking on the door of the first team.
Barton said: “You’ve seen him go past some of the Oldham senior players like they didn’t exist.
“To do that at his relatively young age is something that really excites us about the future.
“The key will be keeping his development on track.
“He’s got a long way to go.
“He’s a first-year scholar and I think that Wilesy (Simon Wiles, U18s coach) and Ciaran (Donnelly, head of academy) will want to keep him for the youth team.
“They’ve got a tough game coming up against Watford so they’ll be wanting to use him against Tranmere on Saturday – but if he keeps going past people like that it wont be long until he’s pushing hard for a first team place.
“He’s a great kid and we’re really delighted for him.”
Fleetwood were due to play Portsmouth this afternoon but the game was called off at the Cod Army’s request with Town having three players called up for international duty.