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INTERVIEW: I feel ready for it

2 April 2015

David Atkinson on settling in at Brunton Park

Defender David Atkinson spoke to us about settling in at Brunton Park following his first appearance for the club at Oxford on Saturday.

"I've settled in really well," he said. "All of the lads have made me feel welcome and I get on with them well. I knew Charlie [Wyke] very well, I've known him since I was about six, and we played together a lot at Boro. I gave him a quick ring when I found out I was coming here and he said it was an unbelievable club.

"I look round the dressing room and I see we've got a really good squad. I can't see why we're down the bottom of the table. The lads look sharp in training but this is a tough league.  League Two is more physical than under-21s, there are a lot of long balls and things like that, so it is a big step up. However, I feel ready for it. 

"I think I can handle the expectation and the pressure of the league position we're in. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting some minutes under my belt and it will be good to play in front of our fans. Having fans behind you motivates you even more because you know it means something to them. I've had a lot of messages on Twitter, which was really nice, so hopefully I can play well for them now."

On his preferred position, he said: "I've played most of my career at centre back and although I'm only 5"9 or 5"10, I don't really lose many headers. My height has probably been an advantage because the other side of my game is good. I think my strengths are my pace and my passing. 

"The manager has shown a lot of faith in me because he's brought me in even though I haven't got a lot of experience. My loan spell at Hartlepool didn't work out how I wanted it to. There was a managerial change and I picked up a knock before I had the chance to play. 

"It was a difficult situation because I'd had to wait a while before I was allowed to go out on loan. I've been at Middlesbrough since I was six or seven, but I've picked up a few bad injuries which has halted my career. I've done my medial ligament in my knee three times, I've had a dislocated kneecap and I've fractured my back twice. 

"I think that has probably made me stronger because it's difficult to take when you're out for so long. I was out for 17 months with my knee, which is hard to take at such a young age, so I just need to kick on from it all now." 

"The staff at Boro have been really good with me," he added. "Jonathan Woodgate helped me a lot through my injuries because he's obviously been through similar things, so he's given me a lot of advice. The staff were over the moon for me when they found out about this and they all said it was a great opportunity. I'm really looking forward to it."

"I've captained the under 21s at Boro and a few of the other teams through the ranks. I love the responsibility and it makes me feel proud. My favourite position is probably centre back but I can play right back or a defensive role in midfield." 

"I do feel ready to play," he told us. "I can't wait to get a start. Hopefully it will be soon and I can show people I can step up. 

"Every game in this league is hard and I think we've got more than enough to get out of it. It's always difficult to come on like I did against Oxford, especially when you're down to ten men. I felt quite comfortable with what I had to do but it was a tough game."

And on his decision to come over to Carlisle for this loan spell, he said: "I did look at the league table but that probably helped me make my decision, if anything. 

"If I can come here and do well it proves I can handle the pressure. I've been playing under-21s for a while now so I do need to step up and push my career on." 

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