Grezza’s gamble looks like paying off

Victor Nirennold signs an autograph for a young fan
Victor Nirennold signs an autograph for a young fan

Victor Nirennold can develop into a top League One defender, according to manager Graham Alexander.

The Frenchman was thrown into the firing line on Saturday, making his debut having swapped Miami for Fleetwood.

Nirennold is the latest gamble Town have taken as they look to unearth undiscovered diamonds from unlikely sources – the 6’ 4” defender plucked from relative obscurity in American college football.

And Alexander is hoping he will be able to build on an impressive start, Nirennold winning the man of the match award in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Rochdale.

“I thought Victor was superb,” said Alexander. “To come into League One, make your debut after being over here for two weeks... Even if you’ve been used to English football at youth team or reserve team level it’s a shock.

“To come from American football like that and play like that ... I thought he was superb.

“I thought it was a bit of a gamble to put him in when we’d had such a short period to look at him.

“But he’s shown real quality. He’s a confident and calm character.

“He was never in a rush to do anything. He just showed some great touches and did really well.”

“It was great to see him on his debut. He’s got points to improve but I’m sure he will do because of his attitude.”

Despite his height, Nirennold showed quality and composure on the ball, making his presence felt in the Fleetwood defence.

And Alexander made it clear that was just what had made the 24-year-old a prospect he could not ignore.

“He’s superb on the ball,” said the Fleetwood boss. “When we saw the video footage, that’s what stood out.

“It was almost men against boys on the video. We had to gauge what level it was at but we saw enough to bring him over.

“He’s shown it in games and in training. Once he gets to grips with the aggressive side of English football, the strength side of it, we’ll have a very good player on our hands.

“He’s mobile, he’s quick and he’s got great feet.

“It’s a great start for him – but that’s all it is.”

Nirennold, who began his career at Stade Rennais before travelling to the States, had never experienced the physical side of English football before Saturday’s clash.

And his manager was impressed with the way he took everything in his stride.

He said: “I think he will have woken up with a few new aches and pains he’s never experienced before.

“But he’s desperate to make his mark.

“When we named the team and he was in it, he shrugged his shoulders – it was just like, no problem. That’s it.

“There was no panic and I thought he took that on to the pitch.

“We’re delighted with him because we’ve had a couple of injuries at the back and Conor (McLaughlin) has been away (with Northern Ireland).

“We needed someone to take the opportunity and I think he’s done that.”