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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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New Barrow defender Ecksersley not put off by tough initiation

ROOKIE defender Tom Eckersley has refused to rule out an extended stay at Holker Street despite his nightmare initiation in Saturday’s 8-1 drubbing at Mansfield Town.

The 21-year-old arrived at Barrow on a month’s loan deal from League Two side Accrington on Friday, before making his ill-fated full debut at Field Mill in the absence of senior centre-backs Danny O’Donnell and Sean Hessey.

Eckersley endured a torrid afternoon as the goals rained into Shaun Pearson’s net to condemn the Bluebirds to their worst defeat for almost 37 years.

But the former Bolton Wanderers youngster says he will not allow the setback to derail his mission to secure his long-term future as his one-year Accrington contract expires in the summer.

And with his latest loan spell due to end on Match 9, he is open to the idea of a longer stay, should he prove his worth to Barrow manager Dave Bayliss.

Speaking ahead of Barrow’s clash at Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Southport tonight (7.45pm), Ecklersley said: “I just need to play as many games as I can while I’m here. If that means extending the deal even further, like to the end of the season, then I’d be happy to do that if I’m getting games. During every game you are in the shop window for other clubs to look at you and hopefully you can impress them. Anything could happen and my contract is up at Accrington in the summer.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next season or what Accrington are going to do, but the best thing for me to do, is play games, play well and get myself out there.”

Ecklersley’s chances of retaining his place in the heart of defence tonight is likely to rest on whether Hessey is able to climb off his sick bed after being struck down by flu.

And after showing a few encouraging signs against the Stags he was not too downhearted about his debut display, although he was disappointed not to have prevented Lee Stevenson’s stunning eighth-minute opener.

“It was a physical and aggressive game because Mansfield throw everything at you, so you have to keep defending by winning headers and getting your blocks in,” said Ecklersley.

“I thought I won most of my headers although I was disappointed with their first goal because I could have done better with my challenge.

“It’s hard to play well in that sort of game but I don’t feel like I made too many mistakes and I’m just looking forward to getting more game-time.”

Manchester-born Eckersley joined Bolton as an eight-year-old boy. But his long 12-year association with the club came to an end last summer when he was released after failing to step up to senior level, and subsequently joined Accrington.

While Eckersley harbours no grudge against the Trotters he has since gone on to make four appearances for Accrington and two more during a loan stint at Stockport.

“As a player I want to prove Bolton wrong for letting me go and that’s what I’m trying to do by playing games and proving I can play a good level,” said Eckersley. “After leaving Bolton it took me a few days to settle because I had been there for so long and I didn’t really know any other set-up.

“But with good support behind me I spoke to different clubs and I just had to forget about it and move on. My football education has been very good and I trained with Bolton’s first team a lot of the time as a reserve-team player. I trained with the likes of Gary Cahill, Kevin Davies, Ricardo Gardner and Jussi Jaaskelainen – that was good experience and I can take that forward into my career.”

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