Norwich City youngster is a wanted man at King's Lynn Town
PUBLISHED: 13:06 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:38 04 January 2020
Ian Culverhouse wants to keep Alfie Payne for the rest of the season, despite the Norwich City youngster struggling to get into the leaders' starting line-up.
The King's Lynn Town boss may need to turn to the youngster today as he copes with the loss of two more players ahead of the visit of Spennymoor Town.
Payne can be recalled from his loan this month by City, but Culverhouse is keen to persuade the 20-year-old to stay until the end of a campaign that is increasingly looking to be about promotion, rather than a relegation battle.
"It's a case of sitting down with Alfie and seeing what he wants to do," said Culverhouse. "I know he is frustrated he hasn't got much game time, but hopefully we can persuade him to stay, he is a part of what we are trying to do but that is a conversation we have got to have with Alfie."
Culverhouse could do without losing any more players: Ryan Jarvis misses today's game through suspension, but Sam Kelly injured a calf in the 3-0 win at Boston on New Year's Day and joins Michael Clunan in the treatment room. But - as in the case of his injured centre-halves - there is often a silver lining in adversity, and in this case it is Jordan Richards, who is in a rich vein of form and scored Lynn's second at Boston.
"I think Richo has been unbelievable this last couple of months," said Culverhouse. "He has really stood up and taken his chance. He is a driving force in that midfield and I am so glad he scored.
"I think he has stepped up another level - he covers every blade of grass, puts tackles in, breaks things up then drives forward with the ball. He's a good player, a really good player, he has really stepped up his performance levels. You haven't got to say anything to him, he just gets on with it, he doesn't make a lot of fuss and his understanding of the game is at a high level as well. His improvement has been really good. No frills or spills, he just gets on with it. An outstanding player, he really is."
While Lynn are riding the crest of a wave, with a four-point lead over York City and an unbeaten home record in the league that stretches back 15 months, Culverhouse will be at pains to point out that he won't tolerate a repeat of the performance at Spennymoor in September when Lynn drew 2-2.
"We got our backside kicked there first half and we were lucky to come in only one down. And now they are in the play-offs so it will be a massive ask," said the Lynn boss. "We have to get our energy levels back up to the levels of today (at Boston). They will be looking to put one over us and we will need to perform at a real high level to get anything from the game."