Ilkeston have given their full blessing to a young star as he strives to earn a move to Premier League giants Chelsea.
Lewis Walker, son of Nottingham Forest and England legend Des, has gone on a week-long trial to the Stamford Bridge club.
And Robins boss Andy Walker couldn’t be more delighted for the 17-year-old, who has only recently broken into the Ilkeston first team.
He explained how the trial came about for the young striker, whose brother Tyler plays for Forest.
“They came to us and asked if we wouldn’t mind him going down,” he said.
“I have to assume they’ve had him watched - we have all sorts of scouts at our games.
“After the FA Youth Cup game we thought it would be a good time.”
The New Manor Ground is becoming well known for producing and developing talented youngsters who can go on to play at a higher level than the Evo-Stik Premier.
But Watson believes the Chelsea interest is more of a compliment to the player, than his club.
“I think it’s a feather in the cap for the boy.
“He’s a great boy, enthusiastic, mucks in with everybody and wants to play football and score goals.
“He’s great about the place, but then they all are, there’s no airs and graces at our place.”
Walker, who scored twice against Shrewsbury in the FA Youth Cup, and made his full first team debut at home to Stocksbridge in the FA Trophy, is an example of the kind of player Ilkeston attract.
Despite playing in what can, at times, be a physical league, the non-league club is not afraid to throw youngsters in at the deep end.
But only if, apparently like Walker, they’re good enough says Watson.
“The model of our club is to give an opportunity to stay in full-time football education, and nobody is as happy as we are if senior clubs show an interest in our players, and they get the chance to go back into the Football League.
“They’ve got to be good enough.
“We’ve got now is a lot of good, young players in the academy structure, pushing the first team, pushing to get into the starting line-up.
And the rest of those youngsters will be as delighted for Walker this week as the manager, although he admits to some mixed feelings.
“We want each other to do well and we do our best for each other,” he said.
“The kids are great, they’re all winning each other on.
“Am I happy to lose good players? Yes and no, but we’re progressing well.”