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Are Stoke City about to sign the next Jamie Vardy?

| 17.11.2015

Stoke City are set to dip into non-league in a bid to find the next Jamie Vardy, according to reports.

Mark Hughes’ Potters are among a host of top flight clubs currently keeping tabs on Ebbsfleet youngster Shilow Tracey.

The 17-year-old winger has put in a number of dazzling displays for the National League South side this season, helping the Fleet establish a five-point gap at the top of the table.

The pacy Fleet academy graduate recently went on trial with Tottenham, who join Stoke, West Ham and Championship clubs Sheffield Wednesday, Reading, Charlton and Ipswich on the list of admirers.

The non-league side are understandably keen to hold on to their asset but will not stand in the player’s way should a big club come calling.

Ebbsfleet vice-chairman Peter Varney told Kent Online: “Do you stop the boy having the chance of a lifetime, with all the money you can earn in the Premier League?

“We’re trying to produce players for Ebbsfleet but if you produce a top-class player like Shilow, you can’t hold the lad back.

“You can’t beat the Premier League. However much you might want to say ‘we’ll take on Spurs,’ you have to be pragmatic and make sure Ebbsfleet gets the best deal possible.”

The pathway from non-league to Premier League used to be the stuff of dreams but with the likes of Leicester’s Vardy, West Ham’s Michail Antonio, QPR’s Charlie Austin and Manchester United and England defender Chris Smalling all making the jump in recent years top flight clubs are keeping an ever closer eye on potential talents.

Tracey is unlikely to set the Britannia Stadium alight over the coming months, should he make his move, but if he enjoys the same rise as the above named players the Potters will be on to a winner.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.