Fleetwood academy boss Donnelly: Loans to benefit Crellin and co

Billy Crellin
Billy Crellin

He’s won a World Cup and is representing England at U19 level, and now going out on loan is the right way to help Billy Crellin to become Fleetwood’s number one.

That’s the view of academy boss Ciaran Donnelly, who explained why a spell away is right for the 18-year-old and other Town prospects.

Crellin, 18, is part of the England squad that faced Holland at St George’s Park yesterday and travels to play Belgium away on Monday.

His clubmate Nathan Sheron, 20, became the first academy product to feature for the first team in last month’s 2-0 win at Oxford, and now keeper Crellin is gaining experience in non-league at FC United of Manchester.

Sheron too had stints at Southport and Chorley, while Michael Donohue has joined Crellin at FC United, and keeper Matty Urwin and winger Dan Mooney are also on loan at non-league clubs.

Donnelly said: “The loan system is an integral part of a young player’s development.

“Top clubs have loan managers specifically to look after their young players who go out. We have Stewart Murdoch to oversee the process and make sure our young players go to places where they get opportunities and fit into a style of football that meets our own.

“We think it is really important we get that process right. It is not just a case of shipping players out and letting them sink or swim elsewhere.

“We have plans for these players over a long period and at particular times we think it is right that they go out and play against some men.

“They still train here and get full access to the training programmes and staff. It is a win-win when a player goes out on loan.

“Billy is getting his first taste now at a good club with a good fanbase. That is a new challenge for him.

“With keepers especially, his aim of being Fleetwood’s first-choice might not be at 19 or 20 – it might be at 23, 24.

“Every player here gets a bespoke programme about what we are looking to do. We talk about it in depth.”