Cameron Salkeld on making his first team debutSecond year scholar Cameron Salkeld made his senior debut in the 2-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night and he admitted today that it had all passed by in a bit of a blur from the moment he was told he was part of the match day eighteen.
"I didn’t find out I was in the squad until quite late in the day," he said. "I was invited along to the pre-match meal but I wasn't told I was one of the subs until Colin West came into the dressing room.
"My shirt was hanging up, so I’d seen that, but I was delighted when I found out I was part of the 18. The manager and the coaches spoke to me a lot and gave me a load of advice but, being honest, I couldn’t take much of it in. I was too nervous to concentrate on anything.
"I do remember the gaffer telling me to enjoy it all. He wanted to make sure I didn’t get too nervous and that I took as much as I could out of the experience. That’s exactly what I tried to do."
Things got even more exciting when, with 79 minutes gone, the manager turned round and gave the attacking midfielder the nod to get ready when it became apparent that Charlie Wyke was going to have to leave the field of play.
"I don’t mind admitting I was shaking as soon as the gaffer told me I was going on," he told us. "He shouted across that I should start getting warm and I looked to see if he meant it should be somebody else. He nodded at me again and I just didn’t know what to do with myself at all.
"It’s definitely the most nervous I’ve ever been. He called me over once I’d warmed up and he even said ‘you aren’t going to remember any of this, but this is what I want you to do’ as we waited for the ball to go out.
"I do remember the last thing he said because it was the same as what he’d told me in the dressing room. He said ‘Cameron, just enjoy it’ and, to be fair, it all just fell into place. As soon as I got on the pitch I started doing what I always do and it flew by."
Manager Keith Curle confirmed that he'd kept the instructions short ahead of sending him onto the field of play.
"These are big moments for young lads," Curle said. "He was always going to be nervous so I turned round and smiled at him as he was getting his instructions. Simon Tracey was briefing him on where he had to be for corners, free kicks and things like that, so I butted in and said 'Simon, he won't remember any of that lot, just get him out there to enjoy himself.'
"As I said after the game, I thought he did really well. He put everything into it and he'll have taken a lot out of it."
And the 17-year-old marked his debut in style, just before the full-time whistle blew, when he was bundled to the floor inside the area by former-England international Wes Brown.
"That was unbelievable,” Salkeld said. "The lads have been taking the mickey because I slid to get the ball first, and I don’t even know why I did that. I think I thought it was going out. I managed to get up quickly and the next thing I was down again and the ref was pointing at the spot.
"I was really buzzing about that. I felt like asking Danny [Grainger] if I could take it, and then I thought better about it. It was brilliant to see him score from it though."
As for the reaction from his family, he said: "They're all over the moon for me. My dad has told me to keep my feet on the ground and to stay humble. If I get more opportunities I’ll try and take them and it’s just a case of pushing on from here now.
"The gaffer has shown the young players that there’s a way through for us if we work hard. I think we’ll be determined to do that even more now, even though we make sure we work hard anyway. Darren [Edmondson] is brilliant with us and he's said all along that if we produce in training and in our games the gaffer will notice it.
"I know how it feels to make an appearance now and I hope it’s the first of many more to come."
Away from first team business he was also handed the captain's armband for last weekend's home game against Blackpool in the North West Youth Alliance league.
"It's great to wear the armband but it was our first defeat of the season and that was very disappointing," he said. "We all felt down in the dumps at full time. It hit us hard because we'd started the season really well.
"I thought we started the game well but we just fell off the pace. Defending set pieces let us down and there were two sloppy goals given away really. It’s something we can easily work on in training."
The midfielder did, however, admit that being handed the captaincy was a great honour despite the result.
“I’ve been captain a couple of times," he told us. "It’s class to captain this team because they’re a great set of lads. They’re all confident and know what they can do with their ability. We just need to come together for the next game."
The Blues are back in action again next weekend with a trip to Morecambe, and Salkeld is keen to see his side forget this result and bounce back.
“We’ve got to forget the game and make sure we're ready for Saturday," he said. "We’ll focus on the next game and hopefully we can pick up a win there and continue what we started.”