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Sheppey United manager Ernie Batten sees an opportunity for ex-Crystal Palace youngster James Taylor to push on again following move to the Ites

Ernie Batten believes Sheppey new boy James Taylor has the potential to rise again.

Midfielder Taylor, 21, was in the under-23 set-up at Crystal Palace as recently last year and before that came through Bristol City’s academy.

Sheppey manager Ernie Batten. Picture: Randolph File
Sheppey manager Ernie Batten. Picture: Randolph File

The former Wales youth international signed for Tonbridge after leaving the Eagles, followed by spells at Potters Bar and Erith & Belvedere.

He made his debut as a second-half substitute against his old club as Sheppey won 4-0 away to the Deres in Isthmian South East on Saturday.

Ites boss Batten said: “I know he’s got a decent background and he’s a young player as well.

“It bodes well if you’re going to build something for the next few years that you can keep lads together who are only going to get better.

“He came on for us on Saturday and he’s got a good engine on him.

“He gets around and, midfield-wise, we will benefit from that and the extra energy he brings.

“We’re happy to have him and hopefully he can play a key part.

“You can see it in bits and pieces when players have been at pro clubs. It’s their awareness and the way they read the game.

“If young players don’t make that breakthrough in league football, it’s about coming down and starting again.

“It’s building confidence and developing your game and if you do that, who’s to say you won’t develop into a really good player?

“I think young players can rebuild in non-league and move back up.

“More and more clubs are looking at non-league players now because if they find a gem there’s big money involved.

“I think there are more opportunities now for young players to get up the ladder than there ever were before.”

Taylor’s arrival was followed by the departure of summer signing Maliq Morris after 19 appearances for the Ites.

“Unfortunately, it’s one of those where it hasn’t worked out for him,” said Batten.

“For one reason or another he’s not been able to get the run of games he would have liked.

“Some of that is because we’ve had a settled side in midfield and he’s also been unavailable on a few occasions at times when he probably would have played.

“He’s a great lad and we wish him all the best at his next club.”

First-half goals from Alex Willis and Josh Wisson put Sheppey in charge at Erith & Belvedere.

The Deres had a go after the break but Jacob Lambert’s late double moved the Ites clear.

Batten said: “Four-nil always looks pretty comprehensive but they gave us a real fright in the second half.

“We had the 2-0 lead at half-time and probably expected to get a few more but they were the more dominant side in the second half and we tended to sit back.

“They upped their game and put us under a lot of pressure.

“They had a couple cleared off the line and had they pulled a goal back, it could have been different.

“But we got a couple late on and made the scoreline look healthier than the game actually was.”

Dan Bradshaw continued his return from injury with a late substitute appearance and played half an hour in the Ites’ goalless draw against Burgess Hill last night.

Sheppey host East Grinstead on Saturday (3pm) and visit Littlehampton next Tuesday (7.45pm).

Bradshaw is Sheppey’s main man in attack but now has in-form Willis and Javaun Splatt to share the burden.

Batten said: “With the number of games we’ve got, you need two or three strikers available.

“You get injuries and suspensions and if you’re reliant on one person, like we have been with Dan, you’re left short if they’re out for any reason.”

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