PAT FENLON believes that Lee Dixon could become the next player to come off the production line at Bohemians and enjoy a successful career abroad -- if he maintains his current progress.
Financial constraints dictate that Bohs are relying heavily on youth this season, affording youngsters such as Craig Sexton, Stephen Traynor, Karl Somers, Roberto Lopes and Dixon a chance in the first team.
Dixon has started three of the Gypsies' four games this season and his form has already forced observers to sit up and take note of the Cabra lad, who had actually quit football at one stage before captain Owen Heary persuaded him to come down and train with the Gypsies.
The club's financial situation also means that Bohs could do with selling players to foreign clubs on a regular basis, as exports such as Stephen Ward and Matt Doherty (both Wolves), Gary Deegan (Coventry) and Paddy Madden (Carlisle) have brought much-needed funds into the club in recent years.
Ward and Doherty have played for Premier League side Wolves this season while Paul Keegan is a regular in the Championship, and Fenlon sees a similar career path for winger Dixon.
"If he's willing to listen to what he's told, and if he carries on learning, he can follow the example of the other lads who have gone away from the club and done well in England," Fenlon said after Dixon impressed in a good start to the season for Bohs, who sit joint top of the league.
"He certainly has the potential to do well abroad. You look at how lads like Brian Murphy, Gary Deegan and Paul Keegan did after they left us, they all went straight into the first team at big clubs in the Championship.
"So you can see that the standard here at home is still very high, and Lee is certainly good enough to play at that level. If he listens to the advice he's given he will be a player. He's a big lad, he's good on the ball, he's aggressive, has good delivery from free kicks and has two good feet.
"Lee has done very well for us so far. I had seen Lee as a schoolboy.
"He's a local lad, he has been at Bohs for a while now so he has a feeling for the club. There are things he needs to develop in his game if he is to come on as a wide player and do it on a weekly basis, but all the young players are the same."
For a long period, Bohs had a reputation of discovering players and selling them to England for a healthy profit, with exports like Gerry Daly, Ashley Grimes, Paul McGee and Jim Crawford all going on to play in England's top flight after leaving Bohs.
But after Shaun Maher and Garreth O'Connor went to Bournemouth in 2000-01, the sale of players dried up.
Cork City took over as the leading exporter of Irish talent as they pocketed more than €1.5m from the sale of players such as Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Roy O'Donovan, Alan Bennett, Joe Gamble and David Meyler.
Bohs bucked the trend in 2007 when they sold Stephen Ward to Wolves and Mick McCarthy has said that the €200,000 he paid Bohs for Ward was one of his best-ever deals.
While Conor Powell (Colchester), Murphy (Ipswich) and Keegan (Doncaster) went on free transfers, Fenlon hopes more cash could be on the way.
"A few years ago we might not have been under pressure to sell players, but the way things are now the club need to raise finance wherever we can."