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Booth development hope may prompt loan keeper swoop

17 January 2023

Lee Bell says signing a keeper on loan is a possibility for Crewe Alexandra.

The Manager says the key consideration behind a potential move for another goalie would be the ongoing development of 18-year-old academy graduate Tom Booth.

Booth had to be recalled from a productive loan spell at Nantwich Town, because Arsenal cut short Arthur Okonkwo’s loan at Mornflake Stadium.

But while Bell says the number one shirt is Dave Richards’s to lose, he is uncomfortable with the idea of Booth sitting on the bench every week.

He explained: “Dave was terrific on Saturday, he pulled off two great saves.

“He is vocal and a good character, and if he performs like that he will stay in goal.

“But I liken Boothy’s situation to Arthur’s at Arsenal - do we want him sitting on our bench all this year, and next year maybe? Or do we want him playing games and gathering experience?

“We think he will be a really good keeper, so if we can accelerate his development, and at the same time strengthen us by bringing a goalie in, I’d consider that.

“We are not in a rush do it, but there different aspects to why we might be prepared to take that step.”

Okonkwo kept 10 clean sheets in 26 appearances for The Railwaymen, but parent club Arsenal executed the standard January break-clause in his season-long agreement to enable the keeper to join Austrian side Sturm Graz.

Bell said: “We had an inkling this was going to happen before Saturday, but we didn’t want to put any information out in case he didn’t go, and he could come back to us.

“Plus, we had a game to play and that news could have affected how the opposition were planning.

“We got the information out at the right time when everything was done, because you never know until things are made official.

He added: “Arthur was brilliant for us. I told him that if a player comes on loan to a club, he has to leave a fingerprint there - and he has certainly done that. Arsenal have been fantastic with us, and we wish Arthur nothing but the best. 


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