IAN LONG says West Bromwich Albion are not the only club to be eyeing Alvechurch teenage hot-shot Luke Yates as a gem in the making.
The 18-year-old attacker, a summer signing from Wednesfield, will be spending a couple of weeks training with the Baggies after impressing in Church’s Northern Premier South promotion chase.
However, Long revealed other clubs are tracking the teenager, who is on contract at Lye Meadow.
“We’ve got two important games coming up over the weekend and then Luke will be going for a couple of weeks training with Albion,” said Long. “They were already watching him and then he played against Albion in the Birmingham Senior Cup and did really well. Now there are a few other clubs sniffing around.
“I’m not surprised. He has stepped up three levels this season and he has shown he has got great ability, great balance and he will make an impact in games. He probably lacks a bit of physical strength, although he can look after himself, but he just bounces off people and he has got a great awareness. He has got a big future ahead of him.”
Yates will feature in Alvechurch’s crunch Easter fixtures at Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday and Monday’s clash at home to fellow promotion battlers Bedworth United as Long’s men look to build on what the manager described as the ‘best performance of the season’ in midweek.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Cleethorpes Town at Lye Meadow, courtesy of a Josh March header from Tom Turton’s 70th-minute corner, was the perfect pick-me-up after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Spalding United.
“Brilliant’ was Long’s verdict on the midweek display but he stressed second-placed Church have now set their standards for the remaining ten games of the season.
“Considering the quality of the opposition who had lost only four games all season and were unbeaten in 11 matches, it was our best performance of the season,” said the Alvechurch manager.
“Football’s crazy. Everyone was down, after losing to Spalding, but then we turn up on Tuesday and produce a totally dominant performance. If we had won six or seven, they couldn’t have complained. Apart from the finishing, it was a near perfect performance.
“But we’ve got to go and make sure we follow it up. The players have set their standards and they have got to maintain it for the next ten games.”
Alvechurch shuffled their squad to ‘freshen’ up the starting XI in midweek with Yusifu Ceesay, Jordan Nadat, Jamie Willets and Dave Bellis slotting into the team and Long expects to have a full squad available over Easter.
Defender Ash Carter will also be available after his red card against Spalding was overturned on appeal.
The captain’s dismissal summed up a frustrating clash, with two goals from Ben Davison giving the visitors an unlikely win. He netted with a looping header on 20 minutes before Carter levelled with a free-kick on the hour but the unmarked Davison converted the Spalding winner on 83 minutes after keeper Charlie Price missed a punch from a corner.