Steve Cotterill hails Shrewsbury's 'jewel in the crown' Tom Bloxham

Manager Steve Cotterill believes Shrewsbury Town have uncovered a ‘jewel in the crown’ and ‘won the lottery rollover’ with starlet Tom Bloxham.

Tom Bloxham of Shrewsbury Town.
Tom Bloxham of Shrewsbury Town.

The 17-year-old has been a sensation in Salop colours this term, in which he has been handed starts in five of the League One games.

Bloxham, who also scored the club’s first league goal of the season with a wonder-strike against Gillingham, joined Town aged 16 after he was spotted playing Sunday League football in Leicester by academy recruitment chief Gary Wharton.

The attacker appeared fleetingly towards the end of last season but his rise so far this term has been remarkable. Bloxham promises to be the first youngster to progress through to the first team to play regular football before the prospect of a big-money move since the likes of Ryan Woods and Connor Goldson.

Cotterill, whose side visit Sheffield Wednesday today with Bloxham set to be involved on the big stage again, said: “It’s why I wanted to see Tom at the end of last season.

“It’s funny, The maturity of players doesn’t happen during the season, it actually happens when the season stops, and they release what they’ve achieved and what level of player they are. They seem to grow again through that summer period away from you, and they come back with renewed vigour, more confidence and stature.

“I wanted to see Tom and Charlie just to find out what we had. While it’s been a slower start for Charlie, Tom has taken his chance and hit the ground running.

“There’s times where we need to think ‘OK, things are getting on top of them a little bit’ and leave them out the team for a game or two.

“Tom is not ready yet, but he’s done really, really well in the period he’s had. We’re all delighted with him, dead protective of him.

“One hundred per cent – as long as he keeps developing, listening in training, working, listening in training, working on the pitch and trying things – which he does – there will be a little jewel in the crown there, financially for the club.”

Bloxham is already turning heads in the football world and Cotterill, who brought the likes of Michael Duff, Jay Rodriguez, Patrick Bamford and Jamaal Lascelles among many others into senior football, knows big clubs will begin to circle imminently.

The boss added: “Yes, it will come to that, whether that’s yesterday, tomorrow, next week, next week, there will be enquiries and there will be offers, that will happen.

“As long as he stays focused and carries on listening. I don’t see Tom going off track.

“When you give that young player the opportunity you normally have a hold of them and they tend to trust you. Where I’ve put my faith and trust in Tom to put him in the team, he knows going forward whatever I do for Tom he thinks I’m definitely doing the right thing for him.

“It’s brilliant for Shrewsbury Town Football Club. I said all along I wanted to bring a player or two through into the team.

“If you can bring a player through that’s homegrown it’s like you’ve won the lottery and if you do it with a striker then you’ve won the rollover lottery because you always get more money for a striker. That’s a good insurance policy for us.”

“In the meantime he’s going to play and make mistakes, but as long as they’re genuine ones he’ll always be forgiven.”

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