Donnelly delight for Fleetwood keeper in elite eleven

Billy Crellin
Billy Crellin

Fleetwood Town academy manager Ciaran Donnelly is relishing the continuing progress of goalkeeping prodigy Billy Crellin next season after the teenager received national recognition.

Crellin’s performances for both Town’s under-18s and development squad helped the 16-year-old local lad to seal his first professional contract in December.

And now the keeper, who has risen through the ranks at Highbury after joining the club aged eight, has capped off a fine season by being named in League Football Education’s elite line-up ‘The 11’ for his performances both on and off the pitch. ‘The 11’ acknowledges the football and academic progress of under-18 players on apprenticeships at current or former League clubs, and also considers involvement in community or charity initiatives.

Town academy boss Donnelly, who will be working with Crellin for the first time next season after his switch from Blackpool to Highbury, cannot wait to see how far the young shot-stopper can go.

He said: “This is a nice way for Billy to finish the season after his excellent work both on and off the pitch.

“We are excited to see what he does next season and hope he continues the great progress he has made over the last 12 months.”

‘The 11’ line-up is chosen by LFE’s team of regional officers and could pave the way for an Apprentice of the Year award.

It may also indicate a bright future in the game for Crellin, considering the calibre of the players previously included.

Ademola Lookman, who joined Everton from Charlton in January, and AFC Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook (formerly Leeds ) were both named in ‘The 11’ before winning the Championship’s Apprentice of the Year.

Others to feature in this select group include Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham), Conor Chaplin (Portsmouth) and Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin (formerly Sheffield United).

Crellin could feature for Paul Murray’s development squad again this pre-season.

Crellin was the hero for Murray’s side in their penalty shoot-out Lancashire Cup semi-final win that clinched a spot in the final against Liverpool - a game anticipated to take place in August.

But first the development squad will embark on pre-season with the club revealing Murray’s side’s schedule.

They will travel to NPL First Division North side Colne on July 15, have an away fixture at North West Counties Premier Division side Squires Gate, face a trip to National League North side Chorley’s Victory Park on July 22 and another away clash at NPL FDN side Ramsbottom United on July 28.

The final two fixtures take place at the same time as the first team host Championship duo Bolton and Preston North End.

The first team’s new 2017/18 League One fixtures are set to be announced on June 21 with the new campaign due to start on Saturday August 5.

The 11 – June 2017: Tom Scott (AFC Wimbledon) Oliver Mulders (Birmingham City) Lewis Thompson (Blackburn Rovers) Tommy Wood (Burnley) Billy Crellin (Fleetwood Town) Sam Dalby (Leyton Orient) Luke Andersen (Lincoln City) Hugo Logan (Milton Keynes Dons) Rhys Kavanagh (Newport County) Tyler Smith (Sheffield United) Matthew Taylor (Wigan Athletic).