As two more of Mansfield Town’s youth players found themselves in the spotlight this week, boss Adam Murray said the club’s future looked bright.
Striker Zayn Hakeem, just back from the Caribbean on Antigua and Barbuda U20s duty where he scored two goals, signed his first professional contract on Monday.
Then fellow 17-year-old Keiran Harrison, a defender, was named on the bench for the Checkatrade Trophy group game away to Derby County U234s, though didn’t get on the pitch.
“I am chuffed to bits for them and the football club,” said Murray.
“Moments like these with Zayn and Keiran just shows the club is moving forward and what we are trying to do.
“It’s going to be a patience thing with the kids, like with Tom Marriott (another youth player who made his debut in the previous Checkatrade match at Port Vale).
“We’ve got to be patient with these babies, but they are good players.
“Keiran has had a good two years now in which he has had steady, steady progression and he has captained the youth team, who’ve had a fantastic season.
“We need him to develop a little bit physically as he is still a little bit skin and bone. But he is a very clever, very technical centre half or possibly a holding midfielder in terms of moving forward.
“I would have liked to have got him some minutes at Derby, but I think when you get into the nitty gritty, to throw him in into the thrust of it probably wouldn’t have helped him.”