Steve Cross: Shrewsbury Town are a good fit for rising stars
Club legend Steve Cross has backed Shrewsbury to continue to offer stars of tomorrow a chance to prove their worth.
Sam Ricketts has yet to complete any business this summer and former Town man Cross insists the Montgomery Waters Meadow club is an ideal proving ground for Premier League and Championship youngsters.
Ex-midfielder Cross, who played more than 300 games in 10 years for Shrewsbury, was disappointed to see Josh Laurent leave for Reading but acknowledged the move highlights what Town can offer talented starlets.
Cross, who regularly watches Salop play, argues that the best thing for young professionals is to play senior football.
“Most players who come here realise straight away it is a decent club,” said Town hall of fame member Cross.
“Most importantly for players it’s that they will come in and get games. For somebody in the under-23s in the Premier League or outskirts of a Championship club, they’ll want games.
“I see these kids that are happy to pick up money and still playing under-23s football at 19 or 20, they need to get out and play.
“The only way they can do that is come to clubs like Shrewsbury and show what good players they are.
“Players will know that if you come to Shrewsbury and do well, then you’re going to have clubs looking at you.”
Laurent followed the likes of Jon Nolan, Toto Nsiala, Ben Godfrey, Dean Henderson, Jayson Leutwiler, Ryan Yates, Tyler Roberts, Ryan Woods and Connor Goldson, among others, to have played in blue and amber before stepping up to a higher level, or enjoying regular game time at their parent club.
Cross added on Laurent: “There’s no one else with his energy. That’s what stood out. He was back tackling in front of the back four and helping his forwards and always available.
“I know the fans will be disappointed. He was well liked with the people I sit around with. I think he’s a decent player, I really do. I’m a bit gutted he’s leaving.
“Fair play to him, he’s done his bit for Town. I like his first touch on the ball and awareness of people around him.
“He weighs in with a few goals as well. He was a fit lad, up and down the pitch all the time. He’ll be a big loss.
“He’s going to a decent club with Mark Bowen, who is a top coach. He’ll get the best out of him and get Reading there or thereabouts next season.
“Town are going to have a big problem trying to find a replacement.”
Asked if Town need to replace what Laurent offered, Cross replied: “Definitely. Unless there is a youngster in the youth team who he will blood.
“I’m sure Sam is doing his homework. I think every manager in League One and Two are weighing up who is available and the chance of them coming.
“He might be looking at like-for-like if not even better. A lot of Premier League and Championship clubs will be looking to send kids on loan.
“Sam’s done quite well with a few that he’s got in and I’m hoping he does so again.”
Another former Town loan man, Callum Lang, has completed a season-long loan deal to Scottish Premiership outfit Motherwell from Wigan.
The former Everton youngster scored three goals in 20 games for Shrews last season and caught the eye with his energetic and stylish displays.
Meanwhile, in-demand Peterborough striker Ivan Toney, who is the subject of interest from Brentford and Celtic, could be worth between £40m and £50m to the Bhoys if he moves north of the border, reckons Posh owner Barry Fry.
Celtic have had a £4m bid rising to £6m for Toney, who spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Salop, firmly rejected.
And Fry insists Celtic will not land Toney with the fee they are ‘piddling about with’.