STE­VIE G EX­AM­PLE CAN HELP JAY SPUR BOLTON

‘Ger­rard way is to give 100 per cent’

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Paul Smith

TIMES are chang­ing for com­bat­ive mid­fielder Jay Spear­ing. At Liver­pool he was one of many strug­gling to break past world stars such as Steven Ger­rard and Lu­cas Leiva, but at new club Bolton it is he who is ex­pected to be the club’s lead­ing light.

Be­fore Bolton’s open­ing game of the new Cham­pi­onship sea­son – against fierce lo­cal ri­vals Burn­ley at Turf Moor no less – it was Spear­ing’s name the vis­it­ing faith­ful chanted pre­match, even though he hadn’t yet signed for the club.

That was largely ow­ing to a suc­cess­ful loan stint at the Ree­bok Sta­dium last sea­son, one that ended with the 24-year-old pick­ing up the club’s player of the year award.

Bolton boss Dougie Freed­man made Spear­ing his top trans­fer tar­get of the sum­mer and even­tu­ally tied up his per­ma­nent sig­na­ture for an undis­closed fee, be­lieved to be around £1.4m, in time for him to make a sec­ond de­but in the 1-1 draw with Read­ing.

A boy­hood Liver­pool fan who had been on the An­field books from the age of seven, Spear­ing ad­mits it was tough to ac­cept his time there had come to an end – but af­ter talks with Reds man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers he ac­knowl­edged he had to seek reg­u­lar first­team football.

Spear­ing in­sists he is ready to step out of the shad­ows of the stars and be­come an in­dis­pens­able mem­ber of his new club in his own right.

“Com­ing back here felt as though I had never been away and I just want to help the club get pro­mo­tion now,” he said. “For pre-sea­son I was back at Liver­pool and just con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting my­self as fit as pos­si­ble. I had a good chat with Bren­dan and we both felt it was the right time for me to move on so I could get reg­u­lar first team football.

“He didn’t put it as bluntly as ‘you aren’t go­ing to get any football here’, and I knew there would be chances in cer­tain games, but with the qual­ity of the play­ers at Liver­pool it was go­ing to be tough for me.

Ben­e­fit

“I would prob­a­bly play bits and bobs through the sea­son but it is reg­u­lar football that I need at my age so it was an easy de­ci­sion to make, es­pe­cially when I spoke to a few of the play­ers here and the man­ager and chair­man – it didn’t take long for me to sign.”

For a while it ap­peared as though Spear­ing would ful­fil his am­bi­tion of be­com­ing an An­field reg­u­lar, as un­der Kenny Dal­glish, he be­came a main­stay of the Reds mid­field, start­ing the FA Cup semi-fi­nal win over ri­vals Ever­ton and the sub­se­quent fi­nal de­feat against Chelsea at Wem­b­ley in 2012.

Dal­glish’s de­par­ture and the ar­rival of Rodgers, though, saw the lo­cal lad back among the pack.

But what he learnt from play­ing with the likes of Ger­rard, left, can only ben­e­fit his new tar­get of re­turn­ing Bolton to the Pre­mier League.

“I loved play­ing for Liver­pool,” said Spear­ing, who made 45 starts fol­low­ing his de­but in 2008. “Be­ing a lo­cal lad play­ing in the FA Cup semi­fi­nal and fi­nal at Wem­b­ley and win­ning the Car­ling Cup, I loved ev­ery sec­ond of it, but in football terms I needed to move on.

“I have picked up dif­fer­ent bits from all types of play­ers but the main thing is to al­ways give 100 per cent. Ev­ery­thing the top play­ers at Liver­pool like Ger­rard and (Javier) Mascher­ano did was to give 100 per cent and that is how I play.”

Spear­ing is con­fi­dent that suc­cess is around the cor­ner for Wan­der­ers.

“I think the dif­fer­ence this year will be the start to our sea­son,” he said. “Last year Bolton didn’t have the best of starts and we need to pick up as many points as we can now.

“The man­ager has brought in some good play­ers all with Pre­mier League-stan­dard abil­ity. That will put us in the mix.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CHAL­LENGE: Bolton’s Jay Spear­ing, left, and Read­ing’s Danny Guthrie

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