Manager Steven Pressley says new Fleetwood striker Ashley Nadesan is making a greater leap upwards than Jamie Vardy did when he joined the club from Halifax five years ago.
Nadesan caught Town’s eye by netting 99 times in two seasons for Sussex-based Combined Counties Premier Division side Horley Town, and that form helped clinch the 21-year-old’s fairytale six-division jump to League One Fleetwood.
It took newly promoted AFC Wimbledon 14 years to make the same climb from the ninth tier of the English football pyramid, but Nadesan did it in just one day last month.
The move immediately drew comparisons with Premier League-winning hotshot Vardy, who made a £1m move from Fleetwood (just promoted to League Two) to Leicester (then of the Championship) in the summer of 2012.
Pressley says Nadesan, who has just quit his job at McDonald’s to sign a two-year Town deal, will need to be given time to adapt to full-time football.
The Town boss said: “I think the big thing with Ashley is that we can’t expect too much too soon. He is coming from the ninth tier of English football.
“He has scored a number of goals at that level but it is a significant jump from there to League One.
“When Jamie Vardy arrived at Fleetwood, he had been playing one league down and the step up was not so significant.
“Ashley’s is a major step and we have to take that into consideration.
“But a number of our scouts have seen serious potential in him.
“He is a player with potential and a player we will work with to get him up to the levels we require.”
Vardy and Leicester have gone from strength to strength as the striker’s 27 goals helped them lift the Premier League title.
After a meteoric rise, the 29-year-old is now in France preparing for England’s Euro 16 opener against Russia on Saturday in Marseilles.
And chairman Andy Pilley this week acknowledged that Town are in line to receive a sell-on fee if the striker makes a £20m switch to London giants Arsenal.
Nadesan himself says he wants to be the “first Ashley Nadesan” rather than the next Vardy, and Pressley says the club and the fans should not put too much pressure on the forward.
He said: “He has not experienced regular full-time football.
“We have got to realise the level he has been at and it may take a little bit of time before we see him flourish. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him.
“He will have to adapt both physically and mentally to full-time football, but given time he will develop.”
Newly promoted League Two side Grimsby Town have snapped up Fleetwood’s out-of-contract defender Danny Andrew on a one-year deal.