Lee: The Boy's Been Brilliant
Friday, 22nd May 2020 14:46
Former Portman Road hero and current Bury Town director Alan Lee told TWTD all about midfielder Ross Crane, who will join the Blues on a two-year deal from the West Suffolk club in July.
Crane, 17, joined Bury last summer from AFC Sudbury and Lee says his talent was immediately evident.
“We’re thrilled, we’re delighted for him,” Lee said regarding the youngster’s move. “He fell through the net at academy level but when his parents first came to [Bury manager] Ben [Chenery] and the club at the start of the season I think we all felt there was a talented boy here, who could actually make it as a professional footballer, he could make that journey.
“He has fantastic physical attributes which nowadays as a footballer you have to have. You have to have some attributes to compete.
“We just felt there was some talent there and he had an opportunity. The boy’s been brilliant, he’s been no problem whatsoever, works really hard, he’s brave, he goes into full-blooded challenges but he’s got ability on the ball.
“There are bits he needs to improve on, his finishing and crossing. He’s left-sided and we have absolutely loved working with him and we’ll be missing him next season but we're thrilled that he’s gone to Ipswich.”
Lee, who coached at Town's academy for a spell following his retirement as a player, believes Crane, who made 33 senior appearances for BetVictor Isthmian League North Division Bury during 2019/20, scoring twice, could put himself in contention for the Town senior side ahead of next season with young players more likely to get their chance in football following the coronavirus crisis as clubs look to cut costs.
“Funny things happen at football clubs in pre-season,” the former Republic of Ireland international reflected. “People come back in good shape and it looks like everything’s going to be up in the air at the start of next season, and at times like that young players get opportunities.
“With all the comings and goings at Ipswich, it might not be good for the stability of the first team but a lot of young players get opportunities. He might get that in pre-season and it might go really well for him. Physically he’ll have no problem whatsoever.
“If that doesn’t happen, and that’s not a disaster, I’d be looking for him to go out on loan to spend as much time playing first-team football at a level higher than he was playing this year because it did him the world of good playing week-in, week-out under Ben’s stewardship.”
Regarding Crane’s best position, Lee said: “He played in midfield for us in a three. My instincts would say he’ll be a wide player and I’d say that’s potentially where he’d end up, I’d say wide left.
“Ideally, if someone was playing a 4-4-2 and you had him on the left side, I think he could be very effective.”
He added: “Ultimately you can’t give these players any more talent than they have. The boy came and we felt there was talent but he was just learning how to perform and how to use it.
“It was a rocky road, there were times we pulled him and had a word about working harder and being the best in training. He took everything on board and he’s a really honest kid.
“It’s lovely when it works out that way but it wasn’t all plain sailing, he had ups and downs but always had the right attitude and was open to the right guidance and after only a couple of months clubs started looking at him. Millwall were very keen before Neil Harris left and gradually it just built, more and more clubs were watching him.”
In addition to the Lions, Peterborough United were very keen while Premier League Brighton and Crystal Palace sent scouts to West Suffolk to take a look.
Crane is far from the first Bury player to move to a professional club - England international keeper Nick Pope is among those to have made his breakthrough at Ram Meadow - and Lee says the club is getting a reputation for developing young players for a future higher up the ladder.
“Word gets around and parents know that they will be coached by ex-professional footballers, people who know what they’re doing and when the time comes we won’t stand in their way,” he continued.
“We wanted him to become a professional footballer and were happy to facilitate that and Ben Chenery deserves so much credit, he’s put so much work into it and I know Ross has already thanked Ben and the club. Ben was super for him.
“He now needs someone every day just taking him aside and working on his shooting and his crossing and ultimately what will get him into a first team and a career are the crosses he puts into the box, the chances he creates and the goals he scores. He can do the rest. He needs a lot more work but he’s the type that will do it.”
Photo: Bury Town
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