Fulham manager Marco Silva has praised Jay Stansfield’s work rate ahead of Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup fixture against Leeds United in an interview with West London Sport, with the 18-year-old potentially in line for another start in midweek.
The teenage striker scored his first senior goal for the Cottagers in the same competition last month as they overcame Birmingham City 2-0 at St Andrew’s – and he will be hoping this is the start of a much brighter career after being stifled by injuries in recent years.
He scored an impressive 22 times in 14 appearances for the Fulham Under-18s side during the 2019/20 campaign in the U18 Premier League, but only recorded nine goal contributions in the same competition last term, still a respectable total in 10 displays.
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After being identified by officials at Craven Cottage as a rising star, he will be hoping to start again at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night with Marco Silva potentially keen on resting some of his first-teamers to focus on their Championship campaign.
Despite their loss against Reading on Saturday afternoon, they remain in second place and will be desperate to retain their spot in the automatic promotion places as they look to retain to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
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18-year-old Stansfield has been a whisker away from being involved in the second tier, appearing on the bench against Millwall and Hull City earlier in the season despite failing to get on the pitch.
But manager Silva still believes he can count on the teenager despite his recent omissions from the matchday squad, saying to West London Sport: “I really like Jay (Stansfield), not just as a footballer but as a young boy whose work-rate is fantastic.
“Every time he learns something from the training session, and he’s working with me every single day.
“One thing is very important: he can score easily; inside or around the box.
“The last few seasons he’s had some injury problems that stopped his development but he will get more chances.
“Jay got his chance against Birmingham and scored a fabulous goal with a good strike.
“I’m sure if he gets more chances, he will show his quality.”
For fans of Stansfield, these are some very promising quotes.
The fact Silva is working with the teenager shows he will remain in contention not just for cup competitions, but also potentially for the Championship after seemingly impressing the 44-year-old.
Although the Fulham manager may be tempted to field a stronger team against Leeds United to show some of his players what it takes to play against a Premier League club, many of his squad members including Nathaniel Chalobah, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Tosin Adarabioyo already have a decent amount of top-flight experience under their belts.
There are also no guarantees over the starting lineup Marcelo Bielsa will pick. Although he is likely to select a reasonably strong team with eight less league games to play in 2021/22 than Fulham and the Whites not quite qualifying for Europe, the Argentine may leave some of his key players out which may make the game a lot less valuable to Silva’s first-teamers.
This could leave room for players like Stansfield to be given a chance to show what they can do against a Premier League opposition, so it would be no real surprise to see him start again. And it wouldn’t be a shock to see him shine once more at a senior level. He will only get better with more experience.