Frankie's in on loan

By Wendy Gee -

Eastleigh have agreed an initial month’s loan deal for Reading teenager Frankie Raymond and intend throwing him straight into tonight’s friendly against a Saints XI at the Silverlake Stadium (7.45pm).

The 18-year-old central midfielder/left-back has already had Blue Square Bet South experience on loan at Basingstoke Town.

And despite his tender age, Spitfires boss Ian Baird believes the Royals’ Academy graduate, who turns 19 in November, possesses the ideal mentality for senior men’s football.

“I looked at him last season just before he went to Basingstoke and missed out on him,” said Baird.

“But every time I’ve seen him play I’ve been impressed.

“He’s got a bit of aggression about him and a will to win and what I like about him is that he wanted to come here. Frankie’s been down and trained with us and he seems a nice lad. He can play in a couple of positions and hopefully he’ll be a good acquisition.”

With Richard Gillespie out with a sore hip and Jamie Brown still hampered by a knee problem, Raymond is guaranteed a game against Saints assuming the paperwork goes through in time.

Eastleigh are also close to striking a deal with Australian right-back Billy Tsovolos after his contract was terminated by Portsmouth, but Baird stressed: “He’s only 18 and he’s one for the future.”

Tonight’s Spitfires squad will also include three home-grown youngsters – Ben Wilson, Sam Wilson and Liam Hibberd – who have signed up to the new full-time player development programme along with ex- Reading and Gillingham forward Andrew White and England school boys’ defender Jack Vallis from Shrewton United.

The Stoneham Lane club are also running the rule over Adam Murray, a striker/attacking midfielder who hails from the Reading area.

“These young lads will get a first- team chance this season, whereas last year they wouldn’t,” said Eastleigh’s director of football Dave Malone.

“But we’re aware that we can’t afford too many injuries to senior players because we would get hammered with a team of under-20s playing in the Conference South.”

Saints will also have a youthful look about them tonight, although it’s possible that a sprinkling of senior squad members could feature.

Ryan Doble, Ben Reeves, Jack Stephens, Tommy Forecast and James Ward-Prowse are likely candidates for a Silverlake Stadium appearance, along with Jason Puncheon and Joseph Mills who could be on the move from St Mary’s.

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