PLAYING regular league football is the only way for young aspiring footballers to learn the game, according to Hartlepool United midfielder Matty Dolan.
Dolan has just started the third month of a loan spell at Victoria Park from Middlesbrough and he is relishing the rough and tumble and the challenges of playing regular football in League Two.
The 20-year-old has so far featured in 11 matches for Pools this season and he is hoping to play in many more during his loan spell at the club.
Dolan believes his time at Pools has helped him develop as a footballer and believes other young footballers at bigger clubs should be looking to make similar loan moves for the good of their careers, rather than playing developmental or reserve team football.
Hartlepool-born Dolan said: “Personally, I think everybody should be out playing football.
“It is the only way to learn. It is proper football and people are playing for their livelihoods.
“That is what is so important and you have to play for three points to realise what it actually means.
“Development-wise, this is the way forward.”
Dolan isn’t afraid of mixing it up with the older pros either and he is relishing the hard-but-fair approach to tackling in the lower tiers of English football.
The former English Martyrs pupil added: “In this league there is a couple of big tackles that fly in and as you get higher up the leagues to the Premiership say, they maybe wouldn’t be allowed.
“As long as the game is played in the right manner and the referee has a hold of everyone, then it is good to have that fire in your belly.
“You can see it in all our players especially and Jack [Baldwin] made a couple of fantastic tackles on Saturday, which were strong but fair.
“As long as you are fair there is no reason why you can’t put a tackle in.
“It is brilliant to get the experience of the older players and sometimes you get the top players dropping down the leagues as well so it is good to play against them.”