AFTER being under the wing of Dario Gradi for over a month, new signing Shaun Whalley is hoping to soar with Accrington Stanley.

The former Chester City trainee has spent five weeks on trial with Crewe Alexandra, whose long-serving boss Gradi is famed for developing young talent such as Neil Lennon, Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy and Burnley's Steve Jones.

And Whalley is hoping to use his brief experience with the Railwaymen to benefit him and Stanley.

"Crewe's a big, big club. The training was great, the facilities were great and they offered me a package, but I think Accrington is a better move for me at this time," said the 20-year-old, who is cup-tied for this afternoon's clash at Mansfield Town.

"I'm on loan until January but I'm hoping for a longer deal if I can do well."

And Stanley manager John Coleman admitted he had high hopes for one of his newest recruits.

"There were three targets I had in non-league that I've monitored over the last six or seven weeks and we decided to go for Shaun," he said. "He's got a good personality and good demeanour about him. I know he's prepared to work hard and I know he's hungry for success, and we really only want players here who are hungry.

"It helps if you've got players who want to try to prove something to themselves and to other people and I think there was a situation last year where we had a lot of hungry fighters in our team - lads who weren't on a great deal of money at the time, although they did get rewarded in January. But they were keen just to play for the love of the game, and I think if you've got a few players like that in your side it rubs off."

He added: "I'm sure if Shaun gets his head down he'll take this league by storm. He has a lot of pace, a lot of ability, and an eye for goal.

"There were other teams after him, thankfully we got him and hopefully he'll do really well for us."

Whalley dropped out of the Football League after becoming a victim of circumstances at Chester.

He had been introduced into manager Ian Rush's first team plans but found himself out of the picture when Keith Curle took over from the Liverpool legend in May 2005.

"I made a few appearances under Ian Rush, but then he got the sack, another manager came in and got rid of everyone," said Whalley, who joined Runcorn before moving on to Witton Albion, where he caught the eye of a number of league managers.

Coleman added: "He's had a good initial spell in non-league and hopefully that will give him the springboard to go on to bigger things.

"A lot of our players have done that. Players who have been at pro clubs have gone into non league and then into the league with us. It's definitely a way forward for younger players.

"I've got high hopes for him."