WANDERERS face a big decision on the next move for Irish striking talent Conor Carty.

Interest is high in the Under-21 international, who finished a successful loan with St Patrick’s last month by lifting the FAI Cup in front of more than 40,000 supporters at the Aviva Stadium.

Wanderers picked Carty up on a free transfer from Wolves in the summer of 2021 as part of their first B Team squad and the forward, now 21, has shown potential to push into Ian Evatt’s senior side.

He scored on his first team debut, equalising in the last minute against Tranmere in the Papa Johns Trophy, and has also spent time on loan at Oldham Athletic and Gateshead in the National League.

First team coach Matt Craddock worked closely with the County Wicklow native and kept a close eye on his progress over the last 12 months whilst playing at St Pat’s.

He believes finding the right loan move could be the next step in January.

“What Conor needs now is a little break,” he told The Bolton News. “He has played for 18 months pretty much non-stop and so he will get a couple of weeks off, then come back in with us and train a mixture of first team and B Team, whatever he needs at that moment.

“We will re-assess everything in January. He can’t play until then because of registration rules, so we have time to make sure he is in good shape, and then choose what is right for him after that.

“I feel it would be a good loan, again, which gives him an opportunity to showcase himself further. After that, as with all players, you give an opportunity, and it is down to them to take it. He did that in Ireland and showed he could do the things we wanted him to do.”

Wanderers axed their development Under-23s squad in March 2020 after downgrading their academy to Category Three but 12 months later launched the B Team to help bridge the gap between youth football and the seniors.

Upgrading once more to Category Two level was considered last summer – and may be revisited if the club gains promotion to the Championship.

The likes of Nelson Khumbeni, Max Conway, Sonny Sharples-Ahmed, Sam Inwood and Luke Hutchinson have dipped their toe into first team football, while Luke Matheson has also bounced between the two squads following his move from Wolves in the summer.

Craddock says Carty’s example, and the loan move found for him in Ireland, is the blueprint for what the B Team intends to do to develop players in the future.

“Every player in the B Team has an individual development plan (IDP) and Conor had some really clear objectives as to what area he needed to improve on,” he said. “The loan we chose for him was so he would get opportunities to develop that specific skill.

“Really, it was all about out-of-possession work, his work-rate, understanding how and when to press, and anyone who watched him this year will say that area has come on so much. Suddenly now he looks like a player.

“You saw his finishing is very good with the goal he scored at Tranmere in the Papa Johns last season. When you come to any club – but particularly ours – we have a specific way in which we want to do things. Each position has requirements for that player to play in our first team.

“The out-of-possession stuff was an area we thought he could improve on. We knew he could do it, he just needed that opportunity. “He will kick himself because he feels he should have scored more at St Pat’s but the role he played for them has been tremendous and the feedback we have had has been nothing but positive. They would take him back with a click of their fingers. He has done himself, the club and the B Team really proud.”

If Carty is sent out on loan again then he will be re-assessed by the coaching staff and given another set of targets to meet in the second half of the season.

“There are more things now, so he will have that chance to develop, whether that is here or out on loan,” Craddock said. “We will have another look at that IDP and go from there.

“Conor has been a really good example of how a B Team can work. Sometimes it is with us, sometimes with a loan club.”