James completes Deepdale return
Posted by nickogs20 on July 3, 2010
United and England U20 midfielder Matt James will return to Deepdale for the entire 2010/11 season after completing his long-anticipated loan move to Preston North End.
The 18 year-old won rave reviews for his displays in a struggling North End side in the second half of last season and Lilywhites manager Darren Ferguson made his re-signing a priority ahead of the new campaign. A deal has seemed to be tentatively in place for the last couple of months now, and with the start of pre-season training imminent, the i’s and t’s have finally been dotted and crossed.
“I’m very excited to come back,” James told Preston’s official website. “It got sorted at the end of last season, finalised over the summer period and it is a great club to be at. I enjoyed my time here last year and I hope that I can improve on that this year.”
James joined Preston in February and scored on his debut against Sheffield United, going on to make 18 appearances as he established himself as first-choice in the PNE engine room. Not a bad first taste of senior football, but with that experience under his belt Matt is expecting more from his second crack at the Championship. “Last year I was playing and I was like a little kid really,” he admitted. “I’ve already had 18 games in the Championship so this year I’ll go out and know what to expect. With the five tough games we have at the start of the season I will know what to expect unlike the first games I had last season when I didn’t know what to expect.”
Matt ended up with two goals in his first spell at Deepdale, including a Goal of the Season candidate against Nottingham Forest, and that side of his game is something he wants to develop in his first full campaign at senior level. “My personal aim is to carry on what I’m doing in the game, like trying to score more goals. I have set myself the target of scoring more goals and obviously every single game I want have a 100% work ethic. I want to improve physically because the game is getting more physical these days so hopefully I can improve on those aspects.”
Preston’s (and hopefully United’s) gain looks like being England’s loss, at least in the short-term. Having captained the Young Lions during the qualifying campaign for the upcoming U19 European Championships, James was expected to be a shoo-in to make the final 18-man cut and wear the armband in the finals in France later this month. The Bacup youngster’s name isn’t among the twenty invited to a preparatory training camp this week however, and it seems likely that this will have been at Preston’s request, with Ferguson Jr presumably wanting Matt to play a full part in the club’s pre-season programme. Something of a disappointment perhaps, but with England still in contention to make the U21 Euros next summer, the possibility of stepping up another level if he can shine on the club stage offers James a terrific incentive for the year ahead.