Joey Barton is not sure what the immediate future holds for Fleetwood Town’s outstanding young goalkeeper Billy Crellin.
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The 19-year-old, who made nine appearances on loan at National League side Chorley this season, made his England Under-20s debut last week and also signed a new contract keeping him at Highbury until the summer of 2022.
Head coach Barton rates the Fylde coast native very highly, though Crellin is yet to break through into the senior side. He was on the substitutes' bench for Wednesday's defeat by Coventry City
Asked what lies ahead for the teenager, the Town boss said: “We don’t know yet. At this moment he’s back with the first team and he’s pushing hard for a position in the matchday squad.
“He has the benefit that we have to pick a home-grown player in our matchday squad and Bill fits that criteria.
“If he keeps training and keeps performing well, his next step is to dislodge a player in the first-team set-up. He has a lot of work to do because we have two experienced keepers in front of him holding their own.”
Barton also explained why it isn’t easy to arrange loan moves for Crellin.
“The challenge for Bill is he still has to go away with England. He does get called up in the international breaks, so you can see why (National League) clubs wouldn’t take him because they’re looking for continuity and for more senior keepers, but if the right loan comes up we’ll definitely consider it.
“We feel at the moment, Bill’s best interests are being very close to the first team.”