Mark Stimson has been telling The Non-League Paper that Jamie Cureton’s evergreen ways are sure to rub off on his young Hornchurch players.
The BetVictor Isthmian League club’s boss is tipping winger George Saunders to go onto big things in this week’s paper.
Stimson knows a thing or two about burgeoning talents having played a big part in the careers of Michael Kightly, Gary Hooper and George Boyd when he was in charge of Grays Athletic and Stevenage Borough.
Saunders, 21, has already been on trial at Crystal Palace and Stimson expects a queue to be forming for the pacy attacker, who was playing in the Essex Olympian League for Kelvedon Hatch just two seasons ago.
“This kid is unbelievable,” Stimson told The NLP. “I was fortunate enough to work with Michael Kightly, Aaron McLean, George Boyd, Freddy Eastwood, Gary Hooper – this boy has got the potential to do what they’ve done.
“He’s phenomenal. His change of direction and change of pace is Championship level. It’s about getting that chance. He’ll get it.
“We gave him the opportunity to go into Crystal Palace. He didn’t play for us against Folkestone – they were second, we were fifth at the time. There is a lot of interest in him and I’m sure in the summer he will turn professional.
“When I went to the club last year they’d just taken him in pre-season from Kelvedon Hatch. I took over after 15 games and he’d played in most of them.
“When you see him, he’s not the biggest and people thought the level might be too physical for him. He played for me on the wing and was outstanding.
“This year we’ve challenged him a bit. I’ve put him in centre midfield, in the hole, the wing – everything he’s asked of him he’s done it to a tee.
“That’s why I compare him to these other players. George is so athletic, he’s a modern day player – so quick – and someone is going to get really lucky in the summer.”
The Isthmian League Premier Division’s Urchins landed former Premier League striker Cureton after he left division rivals Bishop’s Stortford.
The 44-year-old ex-Norwich City frontman had been player-manager at the Blues alongside chairman Steve Smith and has scored 16 goals.
But when the club said they couldn’t guarantee his future in either role next season, Cureton took up an offer from Hornchurch.
Stimson says his experience alongside fellow strikers Chris Dickson – who the boss says has been “amazing” – and recent addition Adam Cunnington will be a big boost to a squad battling it out for promotion.
“The one thing with Jamie is his enthusiasm and desire to get in behind the back four is still there,” Stimson said.
“He’s so clever. If you played in the Premier League then you have those qualities.
“I’m disappointed for him in one way that it didn’t work out at Bishop’s Stortford as I know he’s looking to become a manager. But I’m happy. He came on Tuesday night for 30 minutes and showed what he is.
“It’s an absolute credit to the fella to, one, want to do it – considering where he’s been and played – and, two, to still be able to.
“A lot of my players will learn from him. We had a couple of youth team players on the bench and someone asked Jamie a question about fitness. He said, ‘Diet! It’s so important’.
“Little things like that my young players – and some of my senior players – can speak to him. If they can pick up a little bit it will only help them prolong their careers.”
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday for the latest news from across Non-League over the last seven days.
As well as exclusive match reports and pictures from all of Saturday’s fixtures in the Vanarama National League, the BetVictor-Sponsored Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League, The Non-League Paper’s live coverage extends all the way to Steps 5 and 6.
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