Nathan Sheron wrote his name in Fleetwood Town’s history books by becoming the first player from the club’s academy to feature for them in the Football League – and now boss Joey Barton has challenged him to make it the first of many.
READ MORE: Clean sheet pleases boss Barton
Versatile Sheron, who has come through Fleetwood’s youth system, has been named on the bench for both this season’s League One games as new rules dictate that at least one homegrown player must be included in the team.
The centre-half-turned- midfielder made his bow in the 67th minute of Town’s 2-0 win at Oxford, coming on for the experienced Dean Marney, who was making his first start for the club.
Barton fulfilled his promise about giving youth a chance and said Sheron’s debut is a proud moment for all at the club.
The 20-year-old’s pathway to the first team included loan spells in National League North with Chorley and Southport.
Barton, who remembers his ownLeague debut for Manchester City at Bolton in April 2003, wants Sheron to savour the day but build on that platform, following in his footsteps by staying in the team.
And with an EFL Cup clash at League Two side Crewe Alexandra tomorrow, Sheron has an opportunity to build on that debut game, which also saw Barton pick up his first managerial win thanks to a goal from Ched Evans and Paddy Madden’s penalty.
Barton said: “I remember making my debut. It feels like it was like that (clicks his fingers) – don’t let these grey hairs fool you!
“I remember making my debut at Bolton and of it all kind of being a blur.
“So I said to him after the game, ‘Enjoy it, three points away from home. You got on, you are a league player and nobody can ever take that away from you.
“But the challenge is to enjoy it, then come in on Monday and get more.
“It is about getting 10, 100, 150 games until you get to the level of Clint Hill (Barton’s assistant at Town), who has got around 900 League appearances.
“As I say to Clint all the time, it is about quality not quantity.”
Barton praised Town coach and fellow former midfielder Barry Nicholson for his hard work in the rise of Sheron.
Many more of Town’s young players are hovering around the first team and 35-year-old Barton is pleased the hard work is paying off.
He added: “I said when I walked into the building – and I’m not sure anyone believed me – that if you are good enough you will play.
“Shez has been excellent all pre-season. He was really pushing hard.
“We have asked him to play a different position. He was known as a centre-half, maybe on the right of a three or possibly a right-back.
“We have asked him to come in and be that physical presence in there (midfield).
“It is a position I have played. I know how difficult it is to play that – it is not a position you can just flip on overnight.
“The first four or five weeks he took it on and looked like he had been there all his career.
“Then he had a bit of a learning period.
“That is the beauty of it – we are coaching him every day and working with him.
“Baz Nic has been fantastic with him. He has been going through clips to up-skill him, so when it comes to days like Saturday we are able to throw him in and trust him to perform at that level.”