Young playmaker looking to follow in the footsteps of Jack Payne
The progression into the professional ranks of playmaker Jack Payne this season has a special resonance for his successor in the club’s youth team, Freddie Gard.
Laindon-based Gard has been at the club for eight years, and he tells Friday night’s edition of the club’s official matchday programme, Blues, that Payne is a player that is used as an example of what can be achieved when coming through the ranks at Boots & Laces.
“Jack Payne is one of the players that we’ve all been told to look up to as he sets the standard for all the youth players,” he reveals. “He’s come through the Academy like myself, so he is someone I look up to and I’m quite good friends with him.”
With Jack Bridge currently sidelined through injury, first-year scholar Gard has made an early step-up to the Under-18 side and, due to his size and talent, Head of Youth Ricky Duncan has already drawn comparisons with Payne in post-match interviews.
“It’s a compliment to be compared to him but I think, although we play similarly, we have different styles as well. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, but it’s nice to be compared to him as he’s broken into the first team and he’s doing really well. Hopefully I can follow in his footsteps.”
And the ascension to the first-team squad of team-mates Josh Banton and Jason Williams is a further inspiration: “To see players that I’ve been around for a long time breaking through shows that I’m working towards something at the end. I understand that, if you keep working hard and you keep putting the hours in, then it will come to something as those players have shown.”
Read more about Freddie Gard’s time at the club’s Academy, the learning curve he has experienced already in his opening months as a scholar and his ambitions for the season ahead in the Fleetwood Town edition of Blues, available for £3 on Friday evening.