Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft believes academy graduate Alistair Smith has plenty more room for development.
Flitcroft praised the midfielder’s progress to date after he signed a new 18-month deal with the club.
“The credit for Alistair’s progression goes to the academy staff, with the relationship they have with him and the trust he has in them,” said Stags’ manager David Flitcroft.
“Alistair is of a good size and has improved in his work out of possession following his loan spells in non-league.
“He has improved technically with the work he’s done with England Futsal, so the combined plan of his development, along with him training with the first team on a regular basis, has given him a foundation to train and be accepted within our first team environment.
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“As we progress, we’ll look to develop him into a central midfielder who can play games for the club. Like with all players, we have to make sure that we put them in [the first team] at the right time and that’s down to us to monitor that.”
Following his schooling at the Stags’ acclaimed academy, the midfielder was first selected for the first team matchday squad in Mansfield’s clash against Cheltenham earlier this season.
The skilful midfielder enjoyed a brilliant tenure with the club’s U18s – winning back-to-back EFL Youth Alliance titles under academy manager John Dempster - and was a regular starter on loan for Loughborough Dynamo last season.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a loan spell with Frickley Athletic earlier this season and after his recall, made his first team debut in November in the Stags’ 3-2 victory over Scunthorpe United in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Earlier this term, Smith received a call-up to England’s senior Futsal squad, having previously appeared for England’s under-23 side in the sport.