FORMER Wales international Nathan Blake believes Ellis Harrison has the potential to follow in his footsteps from Newport to the Premier League after the youngster signed a professional contract with Bristol Rovers.
Talented teenager Harri-son, who made his first team debut for the Pirates at Southampton just over a year ago, has now penned a one-year deal with the League Two club.
Blake played for Cardiff City before going on to sign for Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wolves.
He finished his career with a five-game spell at Newport County before retiring aged 35 and now helps run sports agency Footprints where he represents 18-year-old Harrison.
“I’ve known Ellis since he was born and I’m happy to help him out,” he explained.
“He’s a Pill boy and he’s a very good player.
“He’s striker who scores a lot of goals and he’s a great athlete.
“I think the sky is the limit for him really, he can go on to play in the Championship or the Premier League, he’s that good.”
Harrison has just completed his second year as an apprentice at Rovers and after signing his first pro deal has been told he will feature in the first team plans for nest season.
“He made his debut as a first year apprentice and he hasn’t looked back since then,” said Blake.
“He hasn’t featured since then but he’s come on leaps and bounds this year and has been told he will get a chance next season.
“A one-year deal keeps him hungry as well,” he added.
“It would be easy to get carried away and think you’ve made it before you have but that is what I’m there for – to keep his feet on the ground.”
Harrison is one of a number of young players in recent years to have chosen to play for a Football League club in preference to Newport County and Blake believes the Exiles need to gain promotion from the Conference to ensure they attract the best local prospects.
“I remember County had just been relegated from the League when I went there on work experience almost 25 years ago,” he said.
“They had a five-year plan to get back into the League and they still haven’t made it.
“The match at Wembley showed that the support is there and if they were promoted I think they’d get crowds of 5,000 and be able to take their pick from the best young players in the area."