'I think he can handle League One' - Linnets boss on Carey
- Credit: Ian Burt
Sonny Carey is good enough to play League One football - according to King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse.
The 20-year-old midfielder has been an outstanding feature in the Linnets midfield during this troubled season, and has attracted a host of clubs - reportedly including Bournemouth and Swansea - leaving Lynn in something of a conundrum.
Carey has a year left on his contract, so while Lynn could well cash in this summer, the former Wroxham player is vital to Culverhouse's plans for next season.
But the Lynn boss is philosophical about Carey.
"He deserves everything he gets because he has been phenomenal, for such a young age," said Culverhouse. "He has taken his time with it. Obviously we have dipped him in and out all the way through so we have looked after him in that sense, we haven't thrown him out to the wolves.
"But he is relishing the challenge because he has had to step up and take command of the side, and I have always said to him 'don't listen to the noise - you have developed the noise by what you are doing on the football pitch, so don't listen to that out there'. Because if he starts chasing it, he has too many touches and tries to beat someone, which he has in a couple of games ... he's just got to let it come, just play his game, play naturally, because that's what created the noise.
"He is so ambitious, he wants to move on in his career. We have always said, 'use us, progress your career here, we will help you as much as we can with what we can do for you, and then we will send you on your way - you drive us forward, we'll drive you.
"I really do hope he gets a move that suits him because he has been fantastic here. And if he stays - brilliant."
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The questions are obvious: when, where and how much?
A fee, and who might be willing to pay what are unknown. But Culverhouse - who saw brilliant full-backs Frazer Blake-Tracy and Cameron Norman depart for league clubs two summers ago - is unequivocal when it comes to Carey's next stop.
"I think he has done enough, he has shown he can handle this level ," he said. "Has he got another gear? I think so. He is very much like Frazer - I always thought Frazer had another gear.
"And when he goes into that full-time environment, training every day and you look at the nutrition and what these pro clubs can give you, I think he can kick on again.
"I think he can handle League One. I think he can play regularly in League One. I think he has got another year of learning, and learning the physical side of it, because it is a big step up. But I think he has enough ability and enough confidence in himself that he can handle the challenge."
Culverhouse's enthusiasm for Carey's future prospects clearly come with mixed feelings, but he refuses to contemplate standing in the youngster's way.
He said: "Fantastic (if he stayed) - it would be a blessing for us, but there is no way I would deprive him of getting a move because that's what where we want these players to go, we want to give them that chance of playing in the league, that's where we are at the moment.
"We can't handle the Chesterfields and the Stockports and be on the same level as them because we are miles and miles behind, but all we can do is use this as a stepping stone to get there - go in with your career, we will get the benefit of having that player with us, even if it is just for a short time."
Carey's next audience is likely to be a lot bigger than the row of seats the scouts usually occupy - Lynn head to FC Halifax on Saturday for a live TV date (kick-off12.15pm).