HARTLEPOOL United starlet Jack Baldwin admits he must nail down a regular second-string place before he begins to dream of breaking into the first team.
The 18-year-old, signed from non-league Faversham Town during the summer, will make his reserve-team debut today when Pools take on Gateshead at Victoria Park (kick off 2pm).
Baldwin has already tasted senior action during pre-season, but the centre-back realises he must first prove his worth for Micky Barron’s men.
“I have to prove myself to get in the reserve team first of all, never mind the first team,” he told SportMail.“Eventually my aim is to break into the first team, of course, but I’ve got to be patient and just work hard every day in training and then in games.
“But I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.”
The cultured defender made the leap from the eighth tier of the English football pyramid to League One just last month.
He could be forgiven for taking time to adjust to life at the higher level, but Baldwin believes that the rigours of the Isthmian League have prepared him well.
“I started playing men’s football when I was 16 so I’ve had a couple of years of that now,” he went on.
“I think that will help me settle quickly and I’m not new to the physical side of things.
“I like a good old tackle anyway and I like to put myself about a bit.
“But I’d also say I’m good in the air and comfortable with both feet.
“I’ve played all over but I’ve settled at centre-back in recent years and that’s where I see myself playing.”
SEE Wednesday’s Mail for full story ...