Column: Permission to get carried away, just don't get too attached
It's fine to get carried away about the potential of Joe Rowley, just don't get too attached.
Everything we’ve seen and heard about this youngster since the manager plucked him out of the reserves suggests that he’s destined for big things.
It’s not just a desperate attempt to cling by the collective fingertips to a tiny slither of positivity in a dark, dark time for Chesterfield FC.
His rise to prominence isn’t a subtle hint from Gary Caldwell and co that next year’s squad will be heavily reliant on unproven kids – at least one would hope not.
There’s a genuine and warranted excitement about the talent possessed by the 17-year-old.
Caldwell raves about him, the elder statesmen in the dressing room give glowing reports and touch wood, his feet appear to have remained firmly on the ground.
And in a season that has given every Town fan permission to hold the most cynical of attitudes, this is one story that checks out and rings true.
Rowley is a real player.
He proved it again on Sunday in front of 31,003 people at Bramall Lane, in what was a cauldron of noise.
What impressed, every bit as much as the cool way in which he opted for the pass to Paul McGinn that set up the second goal, was his willingness to battle against the champions, against the best players in League One.
Winning flick ons, hassling men in possession and regaining the ball, he clearly wasn’t adverse to mixing it with the big boys and looked like he was playing in the park with his mates.
When Rowley came off, the man replacing him was 23 years his senior.
He’s a boy among men and he looks right at home.
A step down to League Two might allow him a greater chance to develop and the hope is that he’ll shine even brighter.
Keeping hold of a player of his age and ability for at least another year should be one of Caldwell’s primary goals.
Allow him to grow, benefit from his talent on the pitch and watch the price tag rise.
It’s no surprise that big clubs have cast their eye over him, that happens any time a kid breaks into a first team in the Football League.
But a move to one of those clubs right now will see Rowley join the legions of young men stuck in the mud of Under 23 football.
This is a chance to reject short term gain, show long term vision and reap greater long term reward when he eventually moves on – which he will. They all do.