SOUTHEND United manager Chris Powell heaped praise on Charlie Kelman after handing the Shrimpers starlet his first team debut.

Kelman, who recently turned 17, played the final five minutes of Blues’ 3-0 win against Southampton in the Checkatrade Trophy.

And Powell has already been impressed by the young striker.

“Charlie’s been excellent,” said Powell.

“He trains with us and looks like he’s been with us for years.

“He belies his age but it was a good opportunity to put him on.

“He will still develop with the youth team and the odd time with the 23s but it was good to get him on.”

Kelman, who has impressed for the under 18s this season, is the youngest player to make his debut for Blues since Julian Okau in November 2009.

He is also the 11th youngest player to line up for the Shrimpers and tweeted his delight after the final whistle.

“Thank you for all the support,” said Kelman.

“Tonight is what dreams are made of. Thank you to everyone at the club from the academy staff to the first team staff for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.

“This is only the beginning.”