'Payback' win would seal great week for Fylde's Hardy

James Hardy
James Hardy
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AFC Fylde midfielder James Hardy admits he was pleasantly surprised to get the call-up for England C so soon after recovering from long-term injury.

AFC Fylde midfielder James Hardy admits he was pleasantly surprised to get the call-up for England C so soon after recovering from long-term injury.

The former Manchester City youngster starred as the Three Lions beat their Welsh counterparts 3-2 on Tuesday.

Hardy has missed much of the Coasters’ debut National League season with a persistent back problem but his recent form earned him a place in Paul Fairclough’s international squad and the 21-year-old was delighted to be involved.

Hardy said: “It was a few weeks ago when I got the call. I had only just come back from injury at that point and I wasn’t really expecting it. It was great news. Everyone there is technically very good and young, so it was good to get a different experience.

“In terms of the game itself, it was a good win and great to be involved yet again. Overall, the whole team played well and I was pretty happy with my performance, especially in the first half.

“Being back playing for the national side was another great experience for me so early on in my career and it’s always an achievement to represent your country at any level of the game.

“I always see it as a chance to show what I can do and to pull on that England shirt is a massive honour."

Dagenham & Redbridge striker Fejiri Okenabirhie was the star turn during midweek, netting a hat-trick for England, and Hardy admits it was good to get a closer look at the Daggers dangerman ahead of tomorrow's clash in the capital.

“It was quite interesting actually because I played with two lads from Dagenham, who we’re playing this weekend.

“It was interesting to train with them and play with them because you get a feel for their style of play a few days before our league game. I don’t think that will have too much of a bearing, though.”

The Coasters head to Dagenham desperate for maximum points following a 3-3 draw against Hartlepool United last time out and Hardy is keen to take that frustration out on today’s opponents.

"Everyone is really pumped up for this weekend. Everyone has been working really hard and we are ready to go again. We see the next game as a big chance to get this frustration out of our system and forget about it.

“To be winning 3-1 so late on last weekend and not win was very frustrating. We definitely deserved to win but we’ve just got to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

“Virtually every game now is massive. They’re all pretty much must-win and tomorrow is no different.

“Dagenham equalised late on against us in the game at Mill Farm earlier in the season, so hopefully we can get the victory and a bit of pay-back.”