Student Grant learning a lot
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
●● 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