EVERY so often a player of genuine talent comes along.

And, just at the right moment, one such youngster has emerged at Gigg Lane.

Defender Chris Armstrong may look like he's just wandered out of the High School gates but he certainly doesn't play like that.

He is an 18-year-old brimming with confidence and both his manager and chairman agree that he has the potential to make it to the very highest level.

"I am ambitious to play at the top but I've just got to keep my head down, work hard and keep performing well," said the young left-back.

"I'm enjoying being in the first team because I had hoped to make the breakthrough this season.

"Last year I was on the subs bench once for the game against Scunthorpe. This season I've been able to get into the first team and I think I'm doing okay."

Armstrong made his debut in the LDV Vans Trophy match against Mansfield Town. He started a little enthusiastically - clattering into the opposition right winger three times and being booked - but as the nerves started to evaporate he settled down and produced an accomplished display.

He has now broken into the first team and, despite his tender years, Armstrong already looks a vital component of the team.

And the man to thank? His older brother Gordon.

Armstrong senior pleaded with then Bury boss Stan Ternent in 1998 to have a look at his younger sibling.

Chris took part in a trial match and was snapped up. The last two and a half years have been spent coming through a gruelling YTS scheme and he has now graduated to the senior ranks.

"Gordon (now a Burnley player under Ternent) came to watch when we played Kidderminster," revealed Armstrong, who has inherited his brother's nickname of Stretch.

"He had a word with me after the game and said well done and to keep it going."

What makes Armstrong's form all the more remarkable is that he's had the difficult task of breaking into the team at the exact moment when Bury are really struggling.

But the youngster hasn't let the crisis affect his own performances and he is confident the Shakers can bounce back and prove the doubters wrong.

"The atmosphere is great and all the older players have been good to me and helped me settle in," he said.

"We all think we can still do well this season. All we need is to get a good run going and the main thing is to get a few goals."

Both manager Andy Preece and chairman Terry Robinson, who have watched the youngster grow in stature during the last two years, believe Armstrong has what it takes.

Robinson said: "I don't want to build him up but I think Stretch has got the pedigree, the ability and the temprement and I think he is going to be a very good player."

With the cash-strapped Shakers relying more and more on home produced talent to be the future of the club, let's hope the chairman is right.