REDDITCH United boss Liam McDonald was in contented mood this week despite seeing striker Jamie Spencer depart for Kidderminster Harriers and interest in star forward Jermaine Hylton hit new heights.
The Reds manager, who watched his side move into second place in the Southern League Premier Division thanks to Monday’s convincing 3-0 home win over Dorchester Town which followed Saturday’s 5-2 victory at Biggleswade Town, said it was inevitable his young players would be offered the chance to move to higher levels if they continued to impress in the manner in which they have since the midway point of last season.
Twenty-one-year-old Spencer – a former Birmingham City and Coventry City youth team player who has also played for Alvechurch, has made the switch to Aggborough to play Conference Premier football under the management of former Redditch boss Gary Whild, whilst interest in prolific scorer Hylton continues to hot up.
Championship outfit Birmingham City have long been admirers of youngster Hylton who will next week play for the Blues in a specially arranged match against a Manchester City outfit, whilst Premiership side Southampton and League One high-flyers MK Dons have also watched Hylton in action and are believed to be weighing up offers.
However, McDonald is relaxed about affairs at the Valley Stadium and prefers to focus on the positives of the situation.
“It was a great opportunity for Jamie (Spencer) to move to Kidderminster. He thought really hard about whether it was the right time to leave because he’s a Redditch lad and loves playing here, but I was never going to stand in his way.
“Once the offer came in from Harriers things moved fairly quickly and he’s buzzing about the challenge ahead for him. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see him banging in the goals for them within a couple of weeks because he’s a brilliant finisher. In respect of finishing, I think he’s as good as anything outside the Football League.
“I sincerely wish him all the best but will say this – he’ll always be welcome back at the Valley Stadium as long as I’m the manager here.”
The fact that Harriers – who play two tiers above Redditch – have swooped for Spencer, speaks volumes for the progress being made at United, whose attacking duo Hylton and Ashley Sammons have largely restricted Spencer to substitute appearances this season, during which time he has scored 11 times.
“That says a lot,” added McDonald. “Jamie has had a real battle on his hands to get into the team this season yet Kidderminster have seen enough to want him and he’s now going to a full-time club.
“I’ve said for a long time we have a way of doing things here and that’s to recruit young and hungry talent and progress their games. I don’t fear anyone leaving, as it’s the nature of the beast. It’s my job to go and find the next Jermaine Hylton and so on.”
McDonald, whose side have a good chance to claim a third successive league win they host lowly Arlesey Town on Saturday, said of the Hylton latest: “Myself and Jermaine have a good and honest relationship and, if something happens imminently in respect of another club, then we’ll deal with it.
“He’s still a Redditch player and is giving everything to the cause but, yes, there’s a January transfer window coming up and we are talking about a player who will definitely play in the Football League and quite possibly the Championship or even higher.”
On Saturday Sammons gave Redditch an early lead as they ended a three-game goal drought and, after Lee Reed had hauled the hosts level, Hylton and centre back Jim Mutton struck to put the visitors 3-1 up at the break.
Reed pulled a goal back on the hour mark but Hylton’s penalty and a late strike from George Carline sealed a comfortable victory for Redditch.
It was the sixth time this season McDonald’s men have scored five or more goals in a game and there was more to come two days later as the Reds eased past Dorchester thanks to another Hylton double and another strike from the increasingly impressive Carline.
Of particular delight to McDonald was the performance of midfielder Calvin Dinsley, who has made a bright start to his Reds career having made the switch from Stourport Swifts.
“Calvin’s been fantastic so far,” added McDonald, who revealed he has made a seven-day approach for a Tividale striker amongst numerous “irons in the fire”.
“His short and long range passing is fantastic and he is going to be a crucial player for us after Christmas. I am really excited by his ability and am pleased the chairman listened to me when I asked if I could bring him in.
“I brought Jordan Jones here from Stourport and he’s had a tremendous impact at right back and I think Calvin has seen that and what we are trying to build here and relished the challenge in the same way.
“We just need to keep going now. I think Arlesey could be a tough game for us on Saturday as they have a new manager, but again it’s about us really. In the past week I’ve had two opposition managers shake my hand and tell me we’re the best side they’ve played this season. We should be proud of that.”