TEENAGE defender Tom Allan has signed a professional deal with York City and is being tipped by manager Gary Mills to make his Football League debut before the end of the season.
York-born Allan, who has been on the club’s books for ten years, could even feature in tomorrow’s League Two clash at Plymouth, where he will be among the Minstermen’s substitutes.
The 18-year-old has previously played pre-season friendlies for the first team but has been promoted to the senior squad midway through the second year of his City scholarship.
Mills made that decision because he feels Allan has the talent to become an “outstanding” player and he added: “Young Tom will sit on the bench with me tomorrow. He’s come on phenomenally during the last year and I think he has a great future, hopefully with us.
“He can play as a left-sided centre-half or as a left-back but he’s played in the centre more this season and was outstanding there for the reserves this week at Scunthorpe. I’m absolutely delighted to offer him a contract now rather than wait until February or March because I feel it’s the right time and he deserves it.
“He’s been training with the first team for a while and has done exceptionally well. I think we have a great player on our hands, who can be an outstanding one because he’s listening and learning all the time.
“I don’t think it will be long before he’s making his League debut because he’s coming on every week. It’s all about playing young lads at the right time and I’ve also got to be brave enough as a manager and not be afraid to put him in.”
Allan stands tall at 6ft 4in and Mills believes he will provide invaluable cover for fellow left-footer Chris Doig.
“I don’t know when he’ll stop growing but he’s quick for a big lad and has lots of good attributes,” the City boss said of Allan.
“He’s another challenger for Chris Doig and Chris Smith, especially Doigy because he’s left sided and that’s good for the balance of the team. We lost Clarke Carlisle but Tom might stop me from needing to bring in another centre-half.”
Allan’s call up for Plymouth follows under-18 team-mate Reece Kelly’s promotion to the first-team bench at Rochdale last weekend and Mills reckons they are not the only ones from the current crop of Minstermites capable of making the professional grade.
“Three or four of them are doing really well and we’ve been getting them to train with the first team to test them a bit more,” Mills revealed.
The City boss, meanwhile, has decided against recalling either Lee Bullock or Jonathan Smith from their respective loan spells at Gateshead and Luton for this weekend, saying: “I thought about it but I wasn’t 100 per cent sure it was the right thing for me to do because we haven’t got a midweek game next week. We will have to have another look at it next week though.”
Michael Potts’ two-goal blast during Saturday’s 3-2 win at Rochdale has lessened the need to fill the space in the squad left by Danny Kearns’ return to parent club Peterborough last month and, despite being transfer listed, the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder is expected to retain his place.
“He’s a good footballer,” Mills reasoned. “What he did last Saturday has gone now but he’s trained well again this week.
“That’s not to say he will play at Plymouth but if you do well and score two goals even me, being a bad manager, would find it difficult to leave him out.”
Lanre Oyebanjo will not travel to Devon after tweaking his hamstring for the reserves at Scunthorpe this week but Alex Rodman has recovered from the stomach problem that saw him miss the Rochdale match.
Mills is also refusing to under-estimate a struggling Plymouth team, who have lost eight of their last nine matches.
He said: “They will be a good footballing side which will probably suit us. They also need a few results and haven’t had a great start to the season but they’ve maybe been unfortunate at times this season, a bit like us.
“I don’t take much notice of bad runs of form because we were on seven without a win before we went to Rochdale.”
Having ended that sequence, Mills is now hoping to close the gap on League Two’s top seven – which currently stands at seven points – by stringing together consecutive winning results.
“It’s amazing what that can do for you in the League and it’s about time we did that,” he said. “We want to push back up the table.
“Everybody always says you want to be there or thereabouts going into the Christmas programme if you want to make the play-offs. We’re not far off and I want to be closer going into the Boxing Day match at Chesterfield.”