AARON Tshibola is thriving on the challenge of playing “proper” football at Hartlepool United.
And the 20-year-old Reading loanee has called on young stars at top clubs to experience the other side of football for themselves.
It is proper men’s competitive footballPools Aaron Tshibola
Tshibola has backed manager Ronnie Moore’s appeals for more players to leave the sanctuary of the U21 league to join lower league clubs on loan.
He initially joined Pools for a month but extended it until the end of the season, despite interest from elsewhere including promotion-chasing Burton Albion.
The highly-rated Royals midfielder said playing games regularly was key to him signing on – and he has called on others to do the same.
Tshibola told SportMail: “I read what Ronnie had to say, he has a point and I can understand where he is coming from.
“A lot of the bigger clubs think it is not good for their players to come down here because of where we are in the league but that should have nothing to do with it.
“Before I joined Pools I spoke to some of the experienced players [at Reading] and asked them about the situation and what I should do.
“They said ‘look, getting games is the most important thing, regardless of where the team is in the league table and if you can help them, then even better’.
“My advice to younger players like myself playing U-21 football would be if you have the chance to go and play in the league then I’d recommend it strongly.
“There is nothing better than playing football in a competitive league and showing and proving to people that you can play and are good enough to be there.
“They would benefit from it a lot – I certainly have.
“They may think League Two may not suit them because of the way they play but it can only help you and it is all about playing games.
“You can only develop and it is about gaining that extra experience.
“If you break through into the first team then you need experience, whether that be in League One, Two, Conference – it is proper men’s football and competitive football,” added Tshibola.
He was speaking ahead of this afternoon’s clash with Wimbledon at Victoria Park as Pools look to close the eight-point gap to safety.
Athletic Tshibola had already played in the Championship for the Royals this season before joining Pools on loan at the start of January.
His Pools debut, a 1-0 defeat away to Wycombe Wanderers, was watched by several of the Reading first team squad at Adams Park, including Anton Ferdinand.
He admits “eyes” are always on him from both Pools and Reading, with the Royals coaches and teammates keeping a close eye on his progress.
“Reading’s director of football saw me play at Portsmouth and I had a few of the lads from Reading watch me at Wycombe,” added Tshibola.
“They are constantly getting reports back as well and in a way I have to impress both sides!
“I am always getting feedback on the phone after games from the staff at Reading asking me how I have done and they are passing on the feedback they have been getting.
“There are always eyes on me!”