Young midfielder Cameron Salkeld popped in to sign his contract with the club last week so we took the opportunity to sit down with him and get his thoughts on what he’s about to face.
Speaking first about his reaction to being offered a deal at the end of his two-year scholarship, he admitted that it had been a really special feeling.
“It was a great moment for me and my family,” he said. “It’s what I’ve been dreaming about for my whole life and for it to come true is a very exciting feeling. I didn’t have any clue at all that it was going to go the right way for me either, which made it better.
“Obviously I got injured [ankle] towards the end of the season and that meant I was missing games. It also meant all I could do was hope for the best. Mind you, I had a feeling that I still might have had a chance because I’d been training with the first team, and things like that.
“I was just over the moon when I got the offer and it made me feel very proud. My family felt the same way as well.”
“Picking up that injury was unbelievable because I missed out on the last four or five games,” he added. “It happened in training as well, which made me feel worse, but I’m over it now and I’m on the road back to recovery. My priority is to work really hard and make sure I’m back for pre-season.
“I want to hit the ground running because I’ve obviously had that taste of first team football. That was another really proud moment and hopefully the appearances I’ve had will stand me in good stead for the future.
“There’s already a goal to my name as well and there’s not really much I can say on that. It was just fantastic that it happened.”
Speaking more about the offer of the contract, he said: “I mentioned feeling proud but it was a big relief as well. I’ve been knocked back from clubs as I was going through some of the age groups and I know how bad it feels to be given that ‘no’ simply because I’ve been through it plenty of times.
“To get a ‘yes’ and be told that I was moving on to be a professional footballer is just a really proud moment. If I’m going to be really honest it still hasn’t sunk in. I think that will happen when I get back for pre-season because I’ll be training every day with the first team.
“I’ve done that with them last season but it’ll feel like I’m more a part of it this time. Plenty of people have reminded me that the hard work starts now and that’s something I’m taking on board. It’s men’s football and everything about it is harder than youth football.
“I’ve been going to the gym and things like that because I want to be as ready as I can be for what is a big season ahead. Darren [Edmondson] and Dave [Wilkes] have advised me to be myself and to make sure I take my chance when it comes along. The aim has to be to get as many games as I possibly can.”
On recent comments from the manager when he again reiterated that if a player is good enough, age doesn’t become a factor at all, he said: “That’s an incentive to do well for him. He’s shown before that if he has faith in you he’ll play you.
“Hopefully he’ll see that I’ve got ability and if I perform in training it will give him something to look at. I know already I have areas to improve on and I’ll be working on them.
“Heading is a great example of that – it’s just something I’m not very good at – in fact it’s appalling! What I really want is to develop every part of my game and I know the manager and his staff will do that for me.”
Known as a confident character around the club, he admitted that making the next step is something he wants to take in his stride.
“Everyone does seem to say I’m a confident lad,” he conceded. “I am a bit of a loud character, even if I say so myself, but I think I’ll be quiet to start off with in pre-season. I think you have to see how things are done and then take it from there.”
Having signed his deal with the club, the down side was saying goodbye to those lads he had spent the best part of the last two years with as they moved on to pastures new.
"We’ll be on a journey together and that’s good ...
“The four who got the offers were all buzzing and hugging each other,” he said. “It was special to come through with three others and I think it gives us all confidence. We’ll be on a journey together and that’s good.
“It was horrible having to say goodbye to the other lads though. Joe Breen had moved back to Ireland a few months ago, and he's a great lad, but I hadn’t seen him for ages.
“The tough bit was with Rhys Groves and Kieran Hall. Like I said, I’ve had that knock-back before a few times and I knew exactly what they were going through. It just isn’t nice and it was a sad feeling to see them go.”
And the final word was on the targets he’s setting himself for the season ahead.
“I haven’t really thought about it but I’m definitely aiming for as many games as possible,” he commented. “If I can score goals and chip in with some assists along with that I’ll be really happy.
“My game is about scoring goals and creating chances and if I can do that it will be excellent.”
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