Lowestoft Town chief set to leave Blues for Southampton
- Credit: Tom Smith/Focus Images Limited
Craig Fleming is set to leave Lowestoft Town to become an academy coach at Southampton.
The 43-year-old, who has helped the Trawlerboys rise up the non league pyramid in recent years as director of football at Crown Meadow, has been headhunted by the St Mary's outfit and will be working with the Saints under-18 players.
Southampton's academy has produced the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Fleming admitted the chance to work with the Premier League club was too good to turn down.
'Everyone knows the players they have brought through and when I was offered the position, I just couldn't say no,' he said.
'It's working with the best academy in the country – they are the envy of a lot of Premier League clubs in terms of the way they bring through young players and it's really exciting to become a part of that.'
Fleming, who came close to leaving the Blues earlier this season with a coaching position at Blackpool, said the decision to leave the Trawlerboys at such a crunch time in their Conference North campaign was not a decision he has taken lightly.
'It's going to be a real wrench to leave,' he added. 'Lowestoft helped me rediscover my love for the game and I've had a great time at the club. When I stopped playing I had stopped enjoying football really but ever since I've got involved with Lowestoft I've loved every minute of it.
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'Everyone should be incredibly proud of what we have achieved together.'
Lowestoft still have plenty of work to do if they are to preserve their Conference North status in their final 10 games of the season.
Despite being in 14th position, the Blues are just seven points off the drop zone with all the teams below them, apart from Brackley, enjoying games in hand.
However, Fleming is adamant Lowestoft can steer clear of the bottom three under the stewardship of joint bosses Micky Chapman and Ady Gallagher.
'The club can definitely stay up and if they do it will probably be the biggest achievement the club has had to date.
'We've got some very good players at the club and I've no doubt they will be fine.'
It is understood Fleming will be involved in Lowestoft's Conference clash against Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday with a leaving date yet to be finalised.