Stu­dent Grant learn­ing a lot

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORS -

ALEX Grant isn’t a fussy lad – he’s quite happy to ac­cept pro­mo­tion via the play-offs and a glo­ri­ous day at Wem­b­ley!

Mac­cles­field’s cen­tral de­fender – a valu­able re­cruit on loan from Stoke City – says he’s des­per­ate to win pro­mo­tion to go along­side his on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment.

A star of the Pot­ters’ youth set-up, he was brought in along­side Adam Thomas by Macc man­ager John Askey.

And although Thomas barely fea­tured in the blue shirt and has now re­turned to the Bri­tan­nia, Grant has be­come a vi­tal fig­ure in the Silk­men’s back­line with a string of strong show­ings.

Macc have con­ceded just 27 times in 31 league games en route to sec­ond spot in the Con­fer­ence ta­ble.

And Grant, who marked his 21st birth­day cel­e­bra­tions at the week­end with the club’s 13th clean shet of the cam­paign, says he’s at the best place for his de­vel­op­ment – and he’s de­ter­mined to com­plete his ex­pe­ri­ence with pro­mo­tion.

“I feel like I’m progress- ing as a player, it’s def­i­nitely tough­ened me up, both men­tally and phys­i­cally, I’m loving it,” said the tal­ented young­ster, who now has 13 league and cup out­ings un­der his belt.

“It’s great play­ing first­team foot­ball – I love it, it’s a lot dif­fer­ent from (un­der) 21s foot­ball at Stoke, it’s a big step up phys­i­cally and men­tally as well.

“Ob­vi­ously the foot­ball at 21s level is a bit more ‘tippy-tappy’ and you’ve got to take your touch and make sure that tech­ni­cally you’re up to scratch.

“I’m not say­ing we don’t play good foot­ball here, you’ve got to have more ar­eas to your game and more strings to you bow so you have to stay switched on all the time.

“It tough­ens you up I sup­pose.”

Tough­ness isn’t prov­ing a prob­lem for Grant, nor is abil­ity. He’s also found time to notch a cou­ple of goals and see red in the FA Cup re­play loss at Wrex­ham.

All part of Con­fer­ence life’s rich ta­pes­try.

And while he con­tin­ues to learn his trade at the sharp end of non-league foot­ball, his man­ager is hop­ing he con­tin­ues his growth – and stays healthy.

Macc have just two ded­i­cated cen­tre-backs in the squad, Grant and George Pilk­ing­ton (right).

And as the two are poles apart in terms of their ex­pe­ri­ence, the younger part­ner ad­mits he’s keen to tap into ev­ery ounce of Pilks’ knowl­edge.

“It’s class hav­ing George along­side me, I drive in with him to train­ing and he’s a great men­tor re­ally, I couldn’t have asked for any­one bet­ter, he’s top­class,” de­clared Grant, who has signed up to re­main at the club un­til the end of the sea­son.

“He def­i­nitely helps me, talks me through it and help­ing me along in games.

“He talks me through matches and when we come in at half-time, he tells me a few things I need to work on and he makes sure I stay switched on.

“I could prob­a­bly have gone back to Stoke and faded away again but I wanted to stay here, stay in this en­vi­ron­ment and thank the man­ager for giv­ing me a chance as well.

“Hope­fully we’ll carry on as we are, that’s two clean sheets in a row and we couldn’t ask for any­thing bet­ter.

“The lads at the other end are do­ing their bit by putting them away as well so it’s all good.”

It’s far from merely ‘good.’

Satur­day’s win over Lin­coln – some­thing of a ‘bo­gey team’ in years gone by – lifted Macc to sec­ond place in the ta­ble.

And while Bar­net are still the team to catch Grant be­lieves the gap can be closed and he’s rel­ish­ing the chal­lenge, if only to ex­tend his down­time this sum­mer!

“We can go all the way, I think we can win the league in all hon­esty,” he added. “Bar­net look shaky some­times, I wasn’t that con­vinced by them when we played them.

“They are a good team and I can see why they’re at the top of the league but I think they’ll have to be care­ful be­cause there’s a few teams breath­ing down their necks.

“If they slip up we have to be there to mop up and take ad­van­tage. I think we can do it, go all the way and get pro­mo­tion.

“We have to fo­cus on each game, but I’d take go­ing up in the play-offs as well.

“It’s a harder way to do it and it means you don’t get as long a hol­i­day but it’d still be great to do it and get to Wem­b­ley, it would be a great ex­pe­ri­ence for me and some­thing to put on my CV – but I’d take pro­mo­tion ei­ther way.”

If he puts in many more solid per­for­mances over the next few months that wish will surely be Granted.

We can go all the way, I think we can win the league in all hon­esty

Peter Hil­ton Pho­tog­ra­phy

●● Alex Grant (above left, after open­ing the scor­ing at Kid­der­min­ster) is de­vel­op­ing all the time as a Silk­man – now he’s aim­ing for pro­mo­tion glory to go with what’s been an im­pres­sive break­through sea­son

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