Sutton United striker Stefan Payne completed his dream move to Premier League Fulham on Tuesday, but left United boss Paul Doswell confident he has a ready-made replacement.
The 18-year-old has caught the eye with seven goals in nine games for the Gander Green Lane club after a summer switch from crisis Combined Counties League club Croydon FC.
The Cottagers paid an initial £25,000 for the Biggin Hill-based youngster and, with two guaranteed home friendlies with boss Roy Hodgson’s first team plus other add ons, it could see the final settlement rise to beyond £250,000.
Payne, now on-loan to Sutton until January, celebrated the deal by helping United into the second qualifying round of the FA Cup as he set up Matt Hann to score the opener in Tuesday night’s 3-2 extra-time triumph over Margate – eventually clinched by Sonny Cobbs’ late winner.
He had already scored in the original tie on Saturday that finished 2-2 and Doswell insists that while his firepower will be missed when quits the club at Christmas, fellow youngster Billy Dunn can step into his shoes.
“Stefan has got half a chance to make it as a professional. He has raw pace, strength and the right attitude. We’re absolutely delighted for him,” he said.
“If he doesn’t make it at Fulham, with the schooling he’ll get there he’ll get another chance lower down the pro level.
“He will be a loss, but in terms of pure talent Billy Dunn is as good, if not better. He is the best I’ve ever seen and could be the next one to push on.