New striker Sam Joel can be the talisman of Lancaster City this season – as long as he remains on the straight and narrow.
That is the view of Dolly Blues manager Mark Fell, who has offered the former Blackburn Rovers youth star a platform to get his football career back on track.
Joel this week put pen to paper on a deal with City after impressing while on trial at the club this summer – scoring twice in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Welsh outfit Llandudno at Giant Axe.
Now aged 22, it was not that long ago that Joel looked to have the world at his feet when he was a teenager.
Billed as a potential Rovers first-team star, the striker certainly lost his way at Ewood Park amid question marks over his attitude.
He was released by Rovers in 2016 and has since drifted in non-league, but Fell believes he has matured and is ready to fulfil his obvious potential.
“I think Sam Joel’s talent is exceptional,” Fell said. “You don’t get to play at Blackburn and be highly regarded at Blackburn if you’re not a talent.
“But he’s had a tough time – made some bad decisions by his own admission. It was he who came to us and asked if he could come on trial.
“He said, ‘I’ve not been what I should have been – I’ve made some poor decisions but that’s my previous life and I want to come and work hard’.
“He wants to get back in full-time football and needs the platform to bring that to reality.
“In fairness, we have not had a peep out of him – he’s been as good as gold.”
While Joel arrives at Giant Axe, two players have departed.
Dolly Blues stalwart Rob Henry (31) – who has played nearly 300 times for the club – has left his position as player-coach in search of some regular first-team football.
And wideman Paul Jarvis (30)– another club stalwart – has decided to take a break from football, which Fell insits is understandable considering he is less than two years down the line from receiving cancer treatment.
Fell said:“Rob wanted to play and was of the view that he was not going to get the opportunity to play here and did not want to fully concentrate on coaching.
“Jarvo needs a break which is understandable bearing in mind what he’s gone through the last 18 months.”