The Macclesfield Town manager, Gary Simpson, believes there is no reason why his talented pool of youngsters cannot pull off an FA Cup upset at Bolton Wanderers tonight.
The Silkmen travel to the Reebok Stadium for a third-round replay having held their illustrious neighbours to a 2-2 draw last week. Indeed, had it not been for a late David Wheater equaliser at Moss Rose, the League Two club would be gearing up for a fourth-round tie at home to Swansea City.
Simpson, however, told The Independent that he is delighted to be working with a group of players who he thinks will go far in the game, not least the 17-year-old defender Elliott Hewitt.
"We have two of three young lads who are going to do well for themselves. [Elliott] Hewitt is just coming back from injury, is only 17 but he will play in the Premier League. I have no doubt about that whatsoever," Simpson said.
"Someone will take the gamble on him at some point, because he has the potential to be the next Gareth Bale. It's whether one of the big boys will want to come and take the chance now.
Hewitt is the next in line in a growing list of young hot properties from Wales – drawing the obvious comparisons with Bale and Aaron Ramsey, both of whom were plucked from Football League clubs in their teens. The left-back has attracted a plethora of top-flight clubs, including Arsenal.
Macclesfield also have their sights set on a bright future for 21-year-old Shaun Brisley – who is remarkably in his fourth full season as a first team defender – and Arnaud Mendy, the scorer of a sumptuous volley last time out. Simpson said: "We want to get them in, polish them up, get two of three years out of them and then move them on. If that is the case and they progress up the pyramid, they have done us a decent shift and we have some compensation for that, then that is the only way that we are going to survive," he said. "We sold over £400,000 worth of players in the summer. That is how we compete in the league."
Town might have found a new gem amongst their ranks in 15-year-old George Whiteoak, who is on the bench and could make his first appearance. "There has been a lot of interest in George," said Simpson. "He is another one who will come on the production line to move on to better things."Reuse content