Preston North End goalkeeper Steven James is grateful for the experience he gained while out on loan last season and is determined to kick on next term with the Lilywhites.
The 19-year-old spent time at local non-league side Bamber Bridge and Evo Stik Premier League outfit Nantwich Town during 2013/14, featuring heavily for both clubs.
The leap from academy to senior level was an exhilarating one for the young shot-stopper, who admits he has benefitted from the challenge.
Speaking exclusively to PNE.Com, he said: “I’ve enjoyed my time out on loan, playing 19 games at Bamber Bridge and I thought I did well there.
“I came back for three weeks, had another move to Nantwich Town and got 17 games there, and at the start of the season I played a few for the youth team so I’ve had a lot of experience this season.
“Playing in men’s football instead of youth team football is a big step-up.”
James signed his first professional contract with North End last summer and the Club has now activated an option to keep the goalkeeper at Deepdale for a further 12 months.
The youngster is delighted to be remaining with Preston for the 2014/15 season and is determined to continue his progress, saying: “I’ve just got to push on now next year and keep going, and I’ve just got to see where things take me.
“Keep working hard and see where it will take me. I’m over the moon with the extension and I really enjoy it here and all the lads and fans are brilliant here, and I love the Club.”
Having spent over a year training with Preston’s first team, James has had the chance to learn from the likes of Thorsten Stuckmann and Declan Rudd on a daily basis.
The young stopper admits the coaching has been priceless, especially the tuition he has received from Alan Kelly Jnr.
“I learn so much off Dec, Alan, and Stucki, because I train here as well as playing games on loan so I learn a lot off Kells [Alan Kelly].
“He’s the best you can get, and I’ve learnt so much from him over the past few years. I always try and be the first one in and last one out of training, that’s just me.”