Academy product Taylor Charters heads into the new season with 21 appearances already against his name, having signed his first professional deal with the club just two months into the second year of his youth scholarship.
Turning 20 in October the midfielder has returned for pre-season looking fit and sharp, and also looking to add to that on-field tally, albeit with an acknowledgement that there will be keen competition for places.
We caught up with him at the start of the second full week of double sessions to get his thoughts on an important campaign ahead.
Speaking first about the intense training period, he told us: “It’s been very tough, but it’s been enjoyable at the same time.
“This is what pre-season is about. It’s about getting the minutes and running into your legs to get you fit for when it all starts in August.
“I’ve had a couple of seasons with the first team now and it’s always very tough. I prepared well during the off-season so I could hit the ground running and I think that’s helped me.
“I took a week off at the start of the break but I was straight back to it after that.”
Having had those important first team minutes last term, he added: “After getting a taste of it last season I feel like I want to be back out there again.
“It was good to get the time on the pitch, but it was less than I would like. It just makes me hungry to go again.
“Hopefully I’ll have a good pre-season so I’m really back into it. Knowing what it’s like to play makes me want to work even harder to make sure I’m doing it again.
“The good thing is that I feel even more part of the group this season. Knowing all of the lads for a while now it gives me confidence coming into training because I know I’m comfortable in and around them.
“That helps me with my confidence out on the pitch as well. It’s great to hear that the manager wants the younger players to take our chance but it’s up to us to do it in training to makes sure we can do that.”
Heading into his second full season as a professional, he also confirmed that he feels like he’s at an age where it’s time to establish himself where it really matters.
“I think I showed a bit about what I am in the time I got last season, but there’s a lot more to come from me in terms of goals and assists,” he said. “That’s why I just want to get out there and do it again.
“You can never be too comfortable, you’ve got to keep going and giving it everything for every session.
“There’s no way you can take your foot off the gas because it’s about a full season and not just one game.
“It’ll be a lot better having the fans in with us as well. It was a bit dead without them last season and having them there when things are going well really boosts your confidence.”
But, with a strong midfield contingent, there’s going to be real competition for that starting shirt.
“Competition like that is healthy, it makes you work even harder in training,” he insisted. “You know you have to work harder than a number of other players to get that start.
“That’s why we’re all working so hard now, and hopefully it’ll all be worth it once the season starts.
“Personally Im looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to getting a lot more starts than I did last season, and to try to get a few goals and assists as well.
“Knowing that I’ve got this year here is good but I know I’ve got to prove that I’m ready to be here for longer.”
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