STRIKER Rory Patterson may not have made the grade as a teenager at Rochdale, but FC United's manager Karl Marginson is convinced the 23-year-old has a future in the professional game.
He hopes that will be with the Rebels, who have already won back-to-back titles with Patterson in their ranks and are chasing a third.
Their hopes of landing the Unibond first division north began to look shaky after a 0-0 draw with rivals Bamber Bridge, which was then followed by a 5-1 defeat at Nantwich in the President's Cup on Monday.
But a 3-0 win over Clitheroe put them back on course ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Brig.
It helps having a striker as prolific as Patterson, who has scored 29 goals in all competitions this season. Those goals have proved crucial in the absence of Stuart Rudd for much of the campaign.
"Anybody who watches us regularly knows Rory is a special talent," said Marginson, whose side are unbeaten in eight matches in the league.
"He creates goals, scores goals, links play well, he's strong, quick, good in the air and has got two good feet.
"I have no doubt that if he wants to, he could play in the League. He was at Rochdale as a junior and was their young player of the year as a 17-year-old, but for some reason they released him.
"After that he was having some problems dealing with life outside football and it has taken a couple of years to get him back on track, but he's been a dream to have in the side.
Tomorrow's game at Gigg Lane will have free admission to under-18s, with the club also promoting healthy eating.