NEWPORT County AFC manager Michael Flynn believes 16-year-old defender Jay Foulston has what it takes to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United’s Regan Poole.

First year scholar Foulston has been the main beneficiary of Flynn’s decision to give youth a chance during pre-season.

The talented teenager, a central defender, impressed everyone as he started alongside first team regulars in the friendly win at Swindon Supermarine.

Foulston also featured in last week’s draw at Merthyr Town and Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Barry Town United and has drawn comparisons to Exiles academy graduate Poole, who left Rodney Parade for Old Trafford in 2015.

Flynn is so excited by the youngster’s potential that he will immediately add him to the first team squad for the new League Two campaign.

“I thought Jay Foulston at centre-back was outstanding,” said Flynn after the match at Jenner Park.

“He’s just turned 16 and, playing against men, I thought he was brilliant.

“He’ll be with me now. He’ll be given a squad number very soon and he’ll be staying with me.

“I’m not a great fan of academy football,” added the Exiles boss.

“As much as it does do some good things, I think it teaches a lot of bad habits and it doesn’t prepare you for the real world.”

South Wales Argus:

Flynn feels that Swansea-born Foulston (above) will learn more with the first team than if he remains with the academy.

“Wayne Rooney at 16 was ready for men’s football,” said Flynn.

“He was strong and powerful but we’ve kind of gone away from that.

“We get some very good technical footballers but I think it will be much more beneficial for him to come with us [in the first team] and learn the real game, the important game where there are consequences.

“You’ve got to improve day in and day out, even in training because you’ve got to fit in with other professionals.

“And I think that’s more beneficial to him than playing in academy football so he’ll be with me.”

South Wales Argus:

Poole made his County debut as a 16-year-old in 2014 (above) when Flynn was an academy coach and the manager sees the same potential in Foulston.

“He’s a left-sided centre-back either in a two or a three,” he said.

“When I told Justin about Regan he was 16 so hopefully history repeats itself a little bit on that.

“Regan could play lots of roles and he got his move to Manchester United.

“I saw the potential in him from day one and I just knew he was going to do something.

“He was head and shoulders above everyone so I think I know a player and I think Jay could have a really good chance as long as he keeps working hard.”

County and Foulston could come up against Poole on Saturday when Flynn’s men take on Northampton in their final pre-season friendly.

The Cobblers, now managed by former Exiles boss Justin Edinburgh, have signed Poole on a season-long loan from United.