Sam Skinner (left) has signed with Magpies Crusaders from CQ Premier League club Bluebirds United. Photo: File
Sam Skinner (left) has signed with Magpies Crusaders from CQ Premier League club Bluebirds United. Photo: File

Skinner’s ‘blank canvas’ excites Magpies Crusaders coach

Magpies Crusaders coach Tom Ballantyne has high hopes for new midfield signing Sam Skinner.

The 17-year-old Rockhampton product will join the NPL Queensland club 12 months after first landing on its radar, with enviable traits Ballantyne hopes to harness.

“Sam came up last year to trial and we were super impressed with him then, but he was probably still a little too young at that point,” Ballantyne said.

Now he’s another year older, with another year playing local premier league in Rocky, which was good for his development.”

Now readying for his first NPL pre-season, Skinner presents as a “blank canvas” for Ballantyne to work with, as the coach looks to add another attacking threat to his line-up.

“He’s a goalscoring midfielder and we don’t have too many of those in our squad at the moment,” Ballantyne said.

“He’s a bit of a blank canvas in that he’s technically very good and his understanding of the game is very good, but he hasn’t been coached at an elite level yet.

“That means we’re able to develop him into the type of player we need.

“He comes to us as an attacking midfielder, but we’ll look to develop him into more of an all-rounder. Once we’ve fleshed out his attributes, we can hone in on what it is he’ll do best.”

Eight goals in 16 appearances for Bluebirds United in the CQ Premier League is testament to Skinner’s ability to find the back of the net.

But it’s how he scores his goals that has Ballantyne so excited.

“He has a great shot on him,” the coach said.

“He scores a fair few goals in and around the edge of the 18 yard box which, again, immediately gives us something that at the moment we don’t have.

“We create a lot of chances in the NPL; we need someone who will want to pull the trigger a bit more regularly.”

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Skinner joins a midfield led by former Belgium youth international Jordy Vleugels, who this year played a big role in developing another young midfield prospect, Mackay local Denzel Bobongie.

Ballantyne hopes Vleugels can do the same for Skinner.

“ You look at how quickly Denzel developed this year – that came from having Jordy there,” he said.

“Sam will develop on a similar sort of timescale we hope.

“Denzel is a much more defensive midfielder; Sam is more attacking. We have a great balance with two very good young midfielders coming through our system.”

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