FC Halifax Town: Khan’s cameos should inspire others, says Nichol

Shiraz Khan. Picture: Matchday Shots
Shiraz Khan. Picture: Matchday Shots

Town’s head of youth development says the club’s youngsters should be inspired by Shiraz Khan’s first-team cameos.

Khan has come off the bench in two Halifax games so far this year, and caught the eye in his short appearance last Saturday.

Ryan Toulson was the last player to come through the ranks at Halifax and establish himself as a first-team regular.

And Nichol has called on the players on Town’s youth programme to use Khan’s progress to the first-team as motivation.

“It was great for Shiraz and our youth team programme that he received some game time on Saturday.

“Credit to the management team for having the courage to put a young player in, they will have learnt more about Shiraz in those 15 minutes than any other time.

“It was also an opportunity for Shiraz to show the progress he has made during his time on loan and with his dribble he showed a glimpse of his potential.

“Hopefully his cameo will give Billy confidence that he could be used as an impact player and gradually receive more game time when the opportunity is right.

“Shiraz must now build on the experience. He has the support of top class coaches in Mark, Mike and Andy and an excellent programme with access to individual sessions, strength and conditioning and speed training alongside first team training.

“He must continue with a relentless work ethic to push his game forward.

“We have worked hard to build the youth team programme and the pathway towards the first team.

“The process of successfully integrating players is difficult however Shiraz’s game time does demonstrate if you’re persistent, dedicated and talented the chance will come at this club.

“It should inspire those currently in our youth team and those players looking to join this club.”

As for the man himself, Khan insists he has never lost belief that he would get a chance in the first-team.

“It’s been a really good experience,” said the 20-year-old. “I’ve been waiting a while but I knew that if I kept working hard I’d get a chance eventually, and it’s finally come.

“I have enjoyed it, even though the results haven’t been the best.

“The first time I came on, I didn’t really get a touch, but Bobby (Mark Carroll, assistant manager) said next time I might come on for less time but I might get a touch, and I did get a few touches last time.

“Everyone said ‘well done’ and I think I did well.

“The manager said ‘well done’ but made a few points that I agreed with where I could have done better.

“But he said I made a great run. He wanted me to go on and be positive, which I tried to do.”

Khan, from Pellon, was at Bradford City when he was younger but got released when he was 16, is in his second year as a professional at Halifax.

The winger still trains with the youth team two days a week doing gym sessions and technical work along with fellow professional youngsters Ross Barrows and Marko Basic.

Khan has previously been on loan to Frickley and once at Colne.

“I’ve learned a lot,” he said of those experiences. “I’d say I’ve changed the way I play in one sense.

“It’s more physical lower down the leagues and you learn a lot playing with men in proper adult football.

“But that compared to the National League is just a completely different level again so I have to try and get used to this level.

“I thought I did well when I went out on loan. The lower down you go it’s less technical and more physical.

“I feel like I’ve learnt my trade that way. I’m not 100 per cent prepared for what might happen now physically but I’m more used to it now and I know what it’s going to be about.

“But I have to keep working hard at Halifax and see what happens.”

When asked what it would mean to him if he did become a Halifax regular, Khan said: “It’d be a really good thing because I’m from Halifax so it’d be great as a local lad.

“But it’s just a good thing to be playing men’s football at a good level, that’s the most important thing for me.

“I just want to try and get to the highest level possible and improve as much as I can.”