Crowley happy to continue footballing education with Reds

Dan Crowley
Dan Crowley
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BARNSLEY head coach Lee Johnson may not have cracked it as a teenager coming through at a venerable footballing institution in Arsenal, but chances are that Dan Crowley just might.

Remember the name. Any Reds fan who attended their final pre-season friendly of the season against Huddersfield Town last Saturday certainly will, with 18-year-old Crowley producing a dazzling show in his first outing.

Signed on the Friday, Crowley showed glimpses of the precocious talent that has earmarked him as a star in the making – and why he is dubbed as the next Jack Wilshere.

Crowley is as confident and assured off the pitch – without being cocky – as he is on it.

Walking the walk at Barnsley, who beat off higher division interest to sign him on a half-season loan, is now the next step in a upwardly career path and you would not bet against reaching the Gunners’ much-vaunted first-team.

That is still a fair way off as Crowley would be the first to acknowledge, with his development now best nurtured in South Yorkshire for the rest of this year and Johnson’s delight in landing him all too obvious last weekend.

Johnson is minded to probably to see a bit of himself in Crowley, who is also slight in stature and height and seeking to stand tall at a top-flight giant.

That may never have happened for the Reds boss, but with a fair wind, it could well be different with Crowley, whose admirers are considerable.

They ironically included Huddersfield, who witnessed his quality at first-hand last weekend, with Birmingham attempting to sign him on loan last season when he was just 17.

England Under-17 international Crowley said: “MK Dons, Huddersfield and Peterborough were interested and what all the managers had to say was really good.

“But the gaffer here really impressed me. I didn’t want to go to the Championship and not play. He said I was going to play.

“The scout who brought me in at Arsenal brought him in as well. Apparently me and the gaffer are a bit alike, which is good.

“We probably both have too much to say for ourselves!”

Crowley is the latest fresh-faced recruit to a Barnsley squad that includes a plethora of talented players under 20, including Manchester United loan duo Joe Rothwell and Ben Pearson and homegrown teenagers Mason Holgate and James Bree, who have attracted the attention of Premier League clubs.

Crowley’s development is such that he was promoted to Arsenal’s senior squad for the recent Asia Cup, no mean feat.

While he took plenty from that experience, including a substitute’s cameo against a Singapore Select XI when he replaced Wilshere, he recognises his footballing education over the coming months will be fundamentally more important.

Crowley said: “I have come here for a reason – to get game time. I need to strengthen my game and play against bigger and stronger players. It will be a good experience.

“I would not have come here if I did not think they (Barnsley) would improve me.”