Former West Ham triallist and Crawley Town starlet shows some encouraging early signs on Gosport Borough loan bow

Crawley Town teenage midfielder Rafiq Khaleel was handed his Gosport Borough loan bow off the bench in their 1-0 Southern League Premier South triumph at Hendon last night.

By Lewis Mason
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 11:11 am

Now Boro boss Shaun Gale has told the exciting prospect, 18, to nail down a starting spot in his team between now and the end of the season.

Khaleel arrived at Privett Park on Monday for his loan stint having featured three times for League Two Crawley since joining the Sussex side in September 2020.

Each of those outings for the Moroccan have arrived in the EFL Trophy, as he was handed a start in John Yems' side's 4-0 home defeat to Leyton Orient in the Papa John's Trophy in October.

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Gosport Borough loan signing Rafiq Khaleel, centre, with Crawley boss John Yems, left, and the League Two club's chief executive Erdem Konyar Picture: Crawley Town FC

Highly rated Khaleel even had a spell on trial with West Ham last year after catching the eye of the Premier League club and trains with Crawley’s first-team.

With central midfielders Mike Carter (hamstring), Elliott Wheeler and Forest Green loanee Luke Hallett still currently sidelined, Gale moved to bring in the top Crawley prospect on the recommendation of the Reds' assistant manager Lee Bradbury, who he worked under during his spell as boss of the National League South Hawks.

And the Boro boss is excited to see what Khaleel can bring to the fold after an encouraging showing having been introduced off the bench at Hendon.

Gale said: ‘Lee Bradbury (Crawley assistant manager), who I know well, told me they had young Rafiq who’s been around the first-team and been to West Ham on trial. The kid is a good player, he’s only 18 years old, he came in last night (at Hendon) and did well.

‘He came in got on the ball, he made us play - he will do that - I think he’ll be decent for us.

‘He’ll train with Crawley and train with us maybe once a week, he came straight in (at Hendon), I had no hesitation of chucking him on.

‘He’ll help us I think because we want to get our wide men on the ball, once the game stretches out, we want to play. He made that happen and showed some really nice touches.

‘He’s got energy levels, he’s up and down the park, all over the park so he’s a good asset. His goal has got to be to nail a place down week in, week out in my team, that’s got to be his goal.’

Khaleel had a brief loan stay with Gosport's Southern League Premier South rivals Kings Langley earlier this season.