Mansfield Town’s teenage sensation striker Jimmy Knowles is already been monitored by Premier League clubs.
The 17-year-old notched his first senior goal for Stags in midweek – a superb, powerful finish against Crewe, and boss John Dempster smiled: “He is someone who has a real chance.
“We have had quite a lot of informal interest about Jimmy - and one of our other Academy graduates as well – two Premier League clubs and one Championship club.
“So Jimmy is creating a real stir because when he’s not involved with the first team he is banging goals in for the U18s. People forget that although Jimmy is a professional footballer he’s only in the second year scholar age.
“So he’s got time on his side. We will keep developing him, encouraging him, and the person that deserves all the credit is Jimmy.
“He just needs to do more of the same that he’s already doing – his work rate is phenomenal. He is hungry.
“Sometimes players need a kick up the backside. But Jimmy needs to be reined in or dragged off the training pitch or told to stop lifting heavy weights or what have you. He can over-do it.”
Dempster admitted he did not always pick Knowles for the first team bench as he needs him to keep getting games and goals at youth level.
“He trains with the first team every day. But one of the reasons he has not been on the bench every week is because we want him to continue playing football,” said Dempster.
“As a centre forward, Richard Cooper and the other academy coaches are continuing to develop him. At times it might be too easy for him in the U18s. But he’s getting that repetition of chances and he is getting on the ball, so he’s getting different returns from the game he plays in.
“Then when he steps up and plays with the first team he will find it more physically demanding – the same for the reserves. That’s a real challenge for him but he can handle it.
“I can certainly see him appearing between now and the end of the season.
“We need young players like Jimmy to support the squad and, while continuing with their development, step in and bring that real enthusiasm and effort as you saw on Tuesday night.” With Dempster having been academy manager when he brought Knowles in, it makes him doubly happy to see the youngster develop so well.
“Other coaches have also had a big impact on Jimmy’s journey so far as well. But for me it was like seeing your little brother score the other night and a brilliant feeling,” he said.
“Jimmy is someone I think a lot of as a person as well as a young player.
“It was only a couple of years ago when I made the phone call to his dad when he’d been released from Nottingham Forest.
“Within a couple of trial sessions it was evident that Jimmy was a real talent.
“The first training session we did with him he absolutely smashed.
“He was scoring goals left, right and centre and the biggest thing that stood out was his work rate.
“Since he’s come into the building that has remained and his attitude towards his gym work and the way he conducts himself on a day to day basis is second to none. His family should be very proud of him.”