Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft believes he can keep hold of rising star CJ Hamilton, despite expected high levels of interest from bigger clubs during the forthcoming January transfer window.
The electric Hamilton, who can play as a winger, wing back or striker, scored both goals in another thrilling display in Saturday’s 2-0 home derby win over Notts County.
Flitcroft’s coaching has improved the player substantially already and he now wants to see Hamilton move up to a higher division with the Stags.
“There is definitely interest in CJ,” said Flitcroft. “But we want him to help us to League One. That’s what the chairman wants. That’s what Carolyn (Radford) wants, the board wants, it’s what I want.
“So I am sure we’ll be able to hold onto him. But every time there has been a player with incredible pace in League Two or League One, usually all the top clubs look at them. It will no different for CJ.
“I have spoken to the chairman about it and we know with CJ there is a lot more to come. His development curve has gone so far.
“It’s about the energy he gives the stadium now. The songs and the affiliation he’s got with the fans.
He excites you. If I wasn’t manager and I was just sat there in the stands I’d want to watch him.
“He gives every supporter hope when he is on the pitch, but he is humble with it. He’s humble in everything he does. He wants to get better.”
Flitcroft said it would take a very special bid for Mansfield to consider losing Hamilton.
“We have an owner who is one of the most successful owners in League football with the money he’s got,” he said.
“So a ‘cheeky’ bid would just get laughed at. Our owner is switched on and I am not too sure if even a very, very good bid would take him away.
“CJ has natural assets that take him past League Two and League One with the way his body composition is and his physicality.
“We’d love CJ to come on this whole journey. I think he would as he respects what the club has done for him.
“We just have to make sure we grow at the same rate as CJ and he doesn’t outgrow us.”
Flitcroft said the thing he loved most about the player was his willingness to learn and ambition to improve.
“He is still the quickest player from the Championship down,” said the manager.
“But there is so much more learning for him and he wants to do it. He wants to take information on.
“Probably four weeks ago I gave him too much information and I likened it to when you open too many programmes on your computer and it slows down.
“He probably had too many programmes open from giving him too much information at once.
“So we cut back from that and gave him smaller chunks. He is picking it up and there are more goals and assists to come form him.
“Development is about trust and we have that. I trust him with my life. He is one of the first players that I put down on the team sheet week in week out.
“He is an ideal A1 student. We are relentless in how we are trying to improve him.”
With Stags 13 games unbeaten in League Two - the club’s best run for 42 years – Flitcroft said it was inevitable there would also be interest in other players in his squad.
“We are a team in form with players in form. Anyone who is trying to improve their squad will have scouts here,” he said.
“I am sure MK Dons’ players are getting tracked too. The same at Lincoln and Bury.
“I look at Jacob Mellis’ form now and he looks fit and his technical ability is fantastic.
“Ryan Sweeney has been so consistent too. When you have a back three, or a back five, that have only conceded 14 goals, then they are committing to their work and people from higher levels will want the best players in League Two.”