Lewis makes big impression at Morecambe

PUBLISHED: 11:22 12 September 2007 | UPDATED: 10:32 14 September 2010

Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy insists the sky is the limit for City's on loan keeper Joe Lewis. The 19-year-old stopper was part of the England U21 squad on duty in Tuesday's Uefa qualifier against Bulgaria after earning his first call up following a string of impressive displays with the League Two new boys.

Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy insists the sky is the limit for City's on loan keeper Joe Lewis.

The 19-year-old stopper was part of the England U21 squad on duty in Tuesday's Uefa qualifier against Bulgaria after earning his first call up following a string of impressive displays with the League Two new boys.

Ex-Northern Ireland boss McIlroy - who featured alongside legendary international team mate Pat Jennings and Man United stopper Alec Stepney in an illustrious playing career - believes the Canaries have a gem on their hands.

“He's got fantastic potential,” said McIlroy. “He's still only a lad and there is so much more to come. For a young keeper I think he is right up there. I know he is very well thought of at Norwich and he's done great for us. Joe's got a tremendous attitude and he wants to do well. He's a superb worker and already has a presence about him. He's only going to fill out even more as he develops.

“The U21 jaunt is a nice reward. It's a fantastic honour for Morecambe to have a player in the England set-up and it's a nice feather in Joe's cap.”

McIlroy admitted he was keen to hold talks with City over extending Lewis' initial loan spell beyond the original December 31 deadline.

“He's a Norwich player and they come first,” said McIlroy. “I'd definitely love to keep him longer if there was a possibility.

“Hopefully Norwich will see that Joe is benefiting from playing games. Our regular keeper broke his arm but he's now back fully fit. The way I see it Joe is in charge of the shirt at the moment.”

McIlory revealed he turned to City's East Anglian rivals Ipswich during the summer before making his move.

“When we got promoted I spoke to a few people and his name was one of the first to come up,” said McIlroy. “I literally only had to speak to one or two in the area and the feedback was magnificent. I contacted Jim Magilton's goalkeeping coach, Andy Rhodes, and he said 'take him' without any hesitation.”

Lewis has also starred in Morecambe's Carling Cup giant killing run with the club gearing up for a third round trip to Sheffield United after knocking out Preston and Wolves.

McIlroy insists the priority remains League Two survival in their debut season after an encouraging start.

“There's such a long, long way to go - literally it's just the next game for us,” he said. “If you speak to me in April and we're still in the same position then I'd be delighted.”

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