ALVECHURCH manager Ian Long backed Yusifu Ceesay to become a hit in professional football, with the striker set to join League One side Blackpool.
Ceesay, a key player in helping Church to promotion to Step Three last season, had trained with Port Vale in the summer as well as Nuneaton Town and Blackpool and the Tangerines are expected to secure the 23-year-old speedster on a two-year contract.
It is likely Ceesay will then join a National League side on loan as the next step in his football education.
Long, who signed Ceesay from Sporting Khalsa 14 months ago, had left the Church door open should Ceesay miss out on a pro deal but he is delighted the player has got his dream opportunity.
“I hope he does well and so does everyone at Alvechurch,” said Long. “It’s a feather in our caps that Yusifu is joining a League One club.
“He’s got flaws at the moment – every player in non-League does – but they will be able to work with him every day. With his pace and his ability, he has got the attributes to be a top, top player.”
Alvechurch’s next generation of young talent seized their chance to impress in the midweek League Challenge Cup 1-0 win against Bromsgrove Sporting, with Long admitting several have forced their way into contention for Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Stratford Town.
Church made nine changes to the side which had defeated high-flying Needham Market 3-0 in Southern Premier Central on Saturday, courtesy of goals from Luke Yates, Josh Ezewele and Tom Turton (penalty).
Kieron Cook, one of three teenagers in the Church starting XI alongside Taylor Morrison and Theo Llewellyn, bagged the first-half winner from 30 yards after capitalising on an errant kick from keeper Jonathan Brown to give Alvechurch a second win over neighbours Sporting inside 11 days.
It sealed a fourth win in a row for Alvechurch and incoming players such as Cook, Paul Evans and Aaron Birch pushed their claims to feature in Saturday’s trip to the Arden Garages Stadium to face a Stratford side whose manager Darren Byfield, the former Redditch United boss, resigned on Wednesday after six games in charge.
Only once since 1990 have Alvechurch progressed into the FA Cup second qualifying round – last season – and Long admits they would love to see Lye Meadow hit by a dose of cup fever.
“Every non-League dreams of getting to the first round of the FA Cup and that’s something we’ve yet to achieve,” said Long.
“We’ve had two promotions and we’ve enjoyed some fantastic moments but an FA Cup run can really put a club on the map. It would be great for the players, the fans and the whole club.”
Alvechurch’s younger generation, meanwhile, are also attracting interest with four of the under 16s set to link up with Walsall Academy on trial.