Ebbsfleet United manager Daryl McMahon has praised his young guns after wrapping up a deal to seal the long-term future of Darren McQueen in midweek.
But was the timing, on Deadline Day, a coincidence as Fleet fought off interested parties from higher up the pyramid?
“It wasn’t anything to do with that at all,” McMahon said. “It’s just it all fell into place this week. We’ve been looking to do it for the past month or so and we’re delighted to get it done. Darren’s a terrific prospect and one I believe who’ll get better and better. He’s come into a group with other young players like Jack Connors and Jack Powell who have got real talent and we hope however long they’re here they can fulfil that talent, help us move on and push their own careers on as well.”
McQueen is top scorer this season with 12 goals and though the Fleet boss knew the former Maldon & Tiptree player had it in him upon signing, he’s been impressed with McQueen’s growth at National South level.
“I thought when we signed him, he was always going to be a goal threat,” McMahon said. “He’s quick, nine times out of 10 he’ll have the ball under control, he’s technically good and he’s improved while he’s been here. From July, coming in and doing pretty well in pre-season games and then at the start of the season, he forced his way into the starting eleven. I don’t pigeon-hole players as subs but at that moment in time he was probably going to be more of an impact player. But then he trained hard, he’d always ask questions to improve, we’d watch through video clips with him, stuff like that. He’s a real keen learner and he’s just pushed on and he wants to play, he’s hungry.”
And the manager, who has praised Powell’s promise in the past, also had words for Connors after recent performances. “As it is with Darren, it’s the same with Jack Powell or Jack Connors who in the last two performances has shown what a talent he is. They’ve got to do it consistently. With young players sometimes, that’s the hardest thing for them is finding that consistency. Sometimes we take them out of the team when we have to, but they’ve each been involved in around 25, 30 matches this season and that’s what we look to do, help them find that talent and maintain it and they can go on to be even better players.”