The concerns of chairman Andy Pilley proved unfounded, and Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton says he never had any doubts that England junior goalkeeper Billy Crellin would do the club proud in last weekend’s FA Cup win at non-league Barnet.
READ MORE: Players boosted reputations in Trophy win over Oldham says Barton
Barton named a strong side for the first-round tie in north London but did entrust the goalkeeper’s gloves to 19-year-old Crellin, whose only previous senior appearance had come in the EFL Trophy 13 months earlier.
Barton admitted that the selection had raised the eyebrows of a chairman focused on a potentially lucrative cup run.
But Pilley need not have feared as Crellin performed admirably to keep his first senior clean sheet as Town defeated their National League hosts 2-0.
Barton said: “I think my chairman was a bit nervous starting a 19-year-old in goal but we’ve got absolute confidence in Bill.
“We’ve got three good goalkeepers at the club, with Alex Cairns and Matt Gilks as well.
“We want to give Bill exposure. It was an FA Cup tie away from home. We felt he was learning the lessons he needs to learn and we needed to get him the games to give him the exposure.
“We had absolute confidence in him and I’m really pleased for him to keep a clean sheet. I thought he was absolutely first class in everything he did.”
Barton’s decision was influenced by Crellin’s latest call-up for England Under-20s, which denied the Fleetwood boss the option of playing him in Wednesday’s EFL Trophy win over Oldham Athletic.
Crellin was not involved in England’s 4-0 win away to Portugal U20 in Agueda yesterday, when Stoke City’s Accrington Stanley loanee Josef Bursik kept goal.
Fylde coast native Crellin will be hoping to make his second appearance for England U20, and his ninth for his country at various junior levels, in Tuesday’s match against Iceland at Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park.
Fleetwood defender Harry Souttar was an unused substitute as Australia maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying with a 1-0 win over Jordan in Saudi Arabia.
Centre-half Souttar had scored in both last month’s qualifiers.