James Hooper, who signed his first professional contract earlier this week, says the hard work starts now.
The 18-year-old midfielder was one of three scholars to be offered terms for the forthcoming season, but he’s taking nothing for granted.
He told Dale PlayerHD: “It was a great feeling to be offered a contract and to see that all the hard work throughout my years as a scholar had paid off. To have the meeting with the Manager and to be told that I was going to be taken on professionally was a dream.
“It is a bit of cliché to say that the hard-work starts now, but it’s a useful cliché and it has a lot of meaning because you’ve worked hard as a youth team player and this is what you want.
“I’m looking to come back stronger - I’ve been doing a bit of work in the off season. My main focus for the start of the season is to be there or thereabouts and wait for an opportunity.”
He continued: “It’s quite a big difference stepping up from a youth team into a first team environment – new team mates and new Manager, but I got about two months-worth of [training with the first team] at the back end of the season.
“I remember scoring a couple of goals for the youth team against Oldham and then got invited down to training by the Gaffer and then I managed to get on the bench against Port Vale. As of then I got used to the environment and got a chance to know the lads. They’ve all been very welcoming and they’ve got a lot of advice because there’s a lot of experience in the squad.”
He added: “Everybody is ready to start now. We’ve had a good break, a good chance to relax and recover.
“Tenerife will be an experience for me because I’ve never been on tour before, but I know what’s coming because it’s hard work and that’s what’s expected here. I’m sure that I’m going to be tired when I get home, but I’m looking forward to kicking on and getting started.”
The full interview is available to view on Dale PlayerHD.