Moving from the Premier League for regular first-team football is a big step for a teenager, but it’s one AFC Fylde winger James Hardy wasn’t afraid to make.
The 19-year-old joined from Manchester City in October, despite interest from Football League clubs.
He said: “I had a few trials at Championship and League One clubs but quite a few said I wasn’t ready for the first team. They wanted me to play for their under-21s and maybe a year later push for the first team.
“I thought I should go to non-league and prove I can play first-team, and hopefully I have done that.
“Obviously the facilities are a lot different but the football we play at Fylde is very decent. I’d say it’s the best in the league. The style of football isn’t too different to Man City, which suits me.”
After three years of youth football at City, Hardy is glad to be competing at senior level. It’s good because you can tell that results mean a lot more. It’s a lot more competitive. Sometimes the way other teams are set up, it’s hard to get the ball down, but at home I feel I can express myself a lot more.”
After a spell out of the side he has started three of Fylde’s last five games.
“It was quite frustrating at the start because the team had won a lot of games, so I knew I had to be patient. I got into the team for a bit but then got injured. The last few weeks have been good and I’m enjoying it a lot more.
“I thought I was going to play more but we have some good players here – a few can play at a higher level .
“Everything clicked into place in the Boston game (which Fylde won 5-2 at the start of the month). I played well, scored and Chall (Dave Challinor) said it was up there with the team’s best performances this season. I think that I also played well at Stockport on Monday too.”
The promotion race is entering its final stretch but Hardy is already looking ahead to next season.
“I definitely want to be more of regular next season and I’m hoping that we get promoted as well. We would go full-time, which would help us with training, but the main thing for me is playing week in, week out.”