Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton has explained why England keeper Billy Crellin has joined FC United of Manchester on a youth loan.
The-18-year-old has been battling it out with Matty Urwin for a spot on the bench behind Alex Cairns as Town start their League One campaign against AFC Wimbledon this Saturday.
However, Barton is prioritising Crellin’s development, sending the keeper on loan to the National League North side for regular men’s football rather than warming the bench.
Urwin might not even get a spot on the bench if trialist Paul Jones signs before Saturday but Crellin is no longer in contention.
The youth loan has no expiration date but the keeper, who won the World Cup with England’s U17s last year, will still be able to feature for Town in their Checkatrade Trophy matches.
And Barton says a loan right now and regular men’s football is the right thing for Crellin.
He said: “Young Billy Crellin is about to go out on loan which is the right thing for him.
“It will get him some senior men’s football experience and we think that is the next progression for him.
“He will train with us during the week but we will get him some men’s games at the weekend.
“We have got to think about his development.”
Two of Fleetwood Town’s other youngsters, Ash Hunter and Harrison Biggins, will take time out from their big game preparations to meet the fans tonight.
Biggins and Hunter will be in the club shop at Highbury from 4.30pm-5.30pm to meet fans, have a chat and sign shirts and autographs ahead of the new season.