JANUARY capture Luke Coulson has been quick to make his mark at Eastleigh.

Professional clubs, from as high as the Championship, are already keeping tabs on the versatile wideman – just 12 weeks after his club record signing from Oxford City.

The 22-year-old, who penned a two-a-half-year deal in late January, grabbed his first goal for the Spitfires on Tuesday as they closed in on the Vanarama National League play-off zone with a 3-1 defeat of Barrow.

It leaves them tantalisingly poised a point behind Tranmere (fifth) and Braintree (sixth) with a game in hand.

Thankfully, Coulson got through the whole 90 minutes with no ill effects following an ankle injury that had ruled him out of the 0-0 draw at Grimsby last weekend.

And with another crucial home game coming up against relegation-haunted Altrincham on Saturday (3pm), the Spitfires are looking forward to another big performance from the newest – and youngest – jewel in their crown.

“Luke’s absolutely shining at the minute,” said Todd.

“We took a bit of a risk playing him on Tuesday. It's always a bit of a worry when a player’s been injured, but he came through it fine, which was pleasing.”

Coulson’s dynamic combination of skill, strength, vision and industry has quickly won over the Eastleigh faithful in his short time at the club.

And, says Todd, it’s not just the fans who have noticed his impact.

“He’s a great player and he’s winning over a few other people too,” smiled the boss.

“Luke’s new to this level, but he looks capable to say the least and there have been rumours of Championship clubs coming to have a look at him.

“In fairness it was always expected that the lad would do well and I knew he had clubs watching him before we brought him in.

“But he was playing for Oxford City and, no disrespect to the Conference South, but it’s a gamble for a League club to take him.

“They were monitoring him and two League clubs had talked to him, but nothing materialised - and then we came calling...”

With fans let in free of charge, Tuesday’s game attracted a bumper 3,292 crowd and Todd is hoping a fair percentage of those will be tempted back this weekend.

“The crowd were absolutely superb and the boys really respected that,” he said.

“They were all buzzing in the changing room afterwards, saying what a great atmosphere it was.

“Calling the crowd the twelfth man is a cliché, but it’s the truth. It inspires people, it really does.

“There are still going to be twists and turns, but if everyone’s pulling together, we’re stronger.”

Midfielder Josh Payne still has another two matches to sit out suspended, ruling him out on Saturday and for Tuesday’s game in hand at FC Halifax.

But the up side is having player/assistant boss Ben Strevens back to his influential best after a seven-match ban. “Strevs was outstanding on Tuesday,” said Todd. “He’s such a good player.

“His suspension was so long that it’s like having a new signing!”