Young City winger, Lee Croft, has spoken about the season ahead and what he needs to do this term to press his claims for regular first team football.
“It was a big season for me last year in terms of breaking into the team towards the end of the campaign but this one is huge in terms of my career and ambitions.
“This is the season when I need to try and establish myself as a Premiership footballer and show that I am capable of doing more than just coming on for 15 or 20 minutes at the end.”
And Croft added: “I want to make an impact and show that I can perform at the highest level for 90 minutes.”
The 20-year-old flyer also talked about the record departure of Shaun Wright-Phillips, saying: “When Shaun went one of the things he said to me was that him leaving would be a good thing for me.
“He said lots of encouraging things to me and in a way lit the way for all the Academy players to follow. He showed just what harnessing great talent to hard work could do and there are a lot of young players at this Club who see Shaun as a trailblazer for them.”
With the loss of SWP, Croft has moved more into the frame for first team action, but still knows there’s plenty of hard work left to do: “Of course Shaun going doesn’t mean I will get an automatic chance because Trevor Sinclair is an experienced England international and he is going to be hard to shift.
“However, I feel we perhaps offer different qualities for the Manager and it is up to me to train hard and do well for the reserves, and then if I get the opportunity in the first team to grab it with both hands. I have to show that I can create things, make things happen, and offer the team something different.”
Croft is realistic about his chances, and knowing first team football doesn’t come on a plate, is more than ready for the challenge that lies ahead. “I have to be mentally strong too,” declared Lee.
Adding: “There will be nothing to gain from me curling up in a ball and sulking about not being in the side. Having a one-year deal and Trevor in front of me gives me all the incentives I need to be tough and fight for recognition.
“My big aim to stay here as long as possible and win a long term contract.”