Cliftonville striker tipped to become Irish League's next top hot-shot
Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin is convinced teenage striker Calvin McCurry can become the next big thing in the Irish League.
The 17-year-old made his debut for the Reds in September, scoring within a minute of coming off the bench in a 4-0 victory over Knockbreda in a County Antrim Shield tie.
Slowly but surely, McCurry has been gaining more first team experience and was a late substitute in Cliftonville's last game - a 1-0 defeat against Linfield at Windsor Park.
Even when McLaughlin was managing Institute, he was keeping tabs on the goalscoring ability of McCurry, who was in the Northern Ireland Under-18 schoolboy squad which won the Centenary Shield earlier this year.
"When you are good enough, you are old enough to play," said McLaughlin.
"He's proved in training he's good enough and, over the last couple of weeks, he's shown he's a star in the making.
"He's one of those diamond players who don't come around too often. If he fulfils his potential and the expectations we have on him here, he could be the next best thing to come out of the Irish League."
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McLaughlin, whose side host fellow title contenders Coleraine on Saturday, appreciates that is a big statement. He adds: "I don't want to build him up too much but he scores goals for fun against the likes of Jamie Harney in training and it doesn't matter that he's 17, he's good enough."
Harney himself has been having a fine campaign at the back.
"When we first came in, we identified him as potentially being one of the best centre-halves in the division and I think he is proving that now," said McLaughlin.
"His current form is class and the defeat against Glentoran showed that when he didn't play. Sometimes you don't see how good someone is until they are missing.
"When he came back against Linfield, he was brilliant. He won every tackle and every header he competed for and hopefully that continues throughout the season."
McLaughlin admits he may enter the transfer market next month though he'll do well to better the deal he concluded with highly rated defender Conor McDermott to sign for the club long term, having previously been on loan from hometown club Derry City.
"We were really concentrating on getting Conor McDermott over the line because he was down to the last three weeks of his loan contract," stated the Reds boss, whose side are four points behind league leaders Linfield having played a game more.
"It was really important we got that done and I'm delighted.
"The boys have been fantastic but there's always room for improvement.
"We're always looking to add, there's no doubt about that."