Rakish Bingham comes into the Mansfield Town squad for the first time at Exeter City on Saturday with manager Paul Cox describing his potential as frightening.
The 20-year-old, who spent three seasons learning his trade at Wigan Athletic, will hope to make an instant impact for an under-fire Stags side that is looking to avoid a fourth defeat on the bounce.
With Liam Hearn out injured until Christmas, the youngster will be under instant scrutiny from fans concerned about their side’s lack of goals.
“I hope he will score us goals,” said Cox. “There were the doubters about Liam’s quality and non-League ethics, but he showed what he was about and what he can give as a player in pre-season and that is very hard to replace, as you saw with Matt Green. Our top scorer last year ended up coming from non-League football and he has now gone on to greater things.
“Rakish played in a behind-closed-doors game for us and instantly you knew the kid had got something.
“It was no surprise he had been off on tour with Bournemouth’s first team pre-season and was being coveted by a lot of clubs.
“We have nipped in there first and his potential is frightening. He has masses of it.
“There should be no pressure on him. I just want the kid to come in here and enjoy his football.
“That’s what’s happening with Alex Fisher. Pre-season, when there is a bit less pressure, he looked a million dollars. And I think Ollie Palmer has come on leaps and bounds.
“But it is my job to shield these players from some of the stuff that goes on, whether that is internal or external pressure that can ultimately affect performances and statistics.”
The money to sign Bingham came from the sale of Sam Clucas, last season’s top scorer, to local rivals Chesterfield which Cox said was simply down to a business decision by the board.
“First and foremost, football is a business,” he said. “We don’t want to lose our best players, but Sam was out of contract in the summer. We turned down the initial offer from the club who came in for him, but the second offer seemed to be good business for the chairman and board.
“That’s what happens in football. It’s not nice but decisions like this are made at clubs up and down the country. Ultimately it is the club that will benefit, but I do understand local rivalry and that people love their respective clubs.
“More than anything it’s the future of the club and how we take it forward that is the most important thing. Maybe a bit of personal pride had been dented. But personal pride doesn’t pay the bills.
“I have probably spoken to Sam more since he went than when he was here. He is a lovely kid with bags of potential and I can see him going on to bigger and better things.
“People don’t realise Sam is mentally stronger than people give him credit for. All the time this was going on he worked really hard in training. But his heart was set on moving up the ladder and earning more money and who can blame him? We are all human beings.”
The good news for Cox and Stags fans is that, despite the club currently being cash-strapped, chairman John Radford has given Cox the green light to use more of the Clucas money to further strengthen his squad next week with the possible addition of one or two more faces to a threadbare dressing room.
And Cox already has his targets firmly in his sights after months of keeping tabs on them
“I have been working on it since pre-season just in case the tide turned,” he said. “ If I hadn’t then I wouldn’t have been doing my job properly. I spoke to the chairman and there is scope.
“I am not going to go barmy and there is not a massive amount of money there. I am just grateful. I always said that if there was no money available I would just roll up my sleeves, get on with it and improve what I’ve got.
“Sometimes just seeing a new face come in can lift a dressing room to a different level.
“We know we are not a bad side as long as we avoid injury and suspensions. Successful sides get that XI on the pitch and find consistency.”