FC Halifax Town: Hardy hoping to make a good impression in loan spell

New player, James Hardy, on the field for Halifax Town v Aldershot, at the Shay
New player, James Hardy, on the field for Halifax Town v Aldershot, at the Shay

What do Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Antoine Griezmann, Harry Kane and Town’s loan signing James Hardy all have in common?

They were all rejected by clubs for being too small.

In Hardy’s case, six years at Oldham Athletic were ended when he was aged 15 due to doubts over his size.

The midfielder, who is around 5ft 7in, has since gone on to play for National League side Fylde, from who he joined Town on a month’s loan last week.

And Hardy says his height hasn’t been an issue since being released by The Latics.

“Not really. I wouldn’t say I’m too small now.

“I don’t know what height I am but I probably need to improve strength-wise.

“The height I’m at now is fine. Some clubs might be put off, some aren’t. It depends on the manager.

“This league is much like any other. The centre-backs are all massive.

“But I’ve had it all my life, so you’ve just got to get on with it and deal with it.”

But he scaled new heights after leaving Oldham by earning a scholarship at boyhood club Manchester City after a successful trial.

Hardy lived the dream until he was 19, training with the likes of Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri in the first-team under managers Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini.

“The standard was unbelievable. It was good to learn off them,” he said.

“I had a great time. Even if you weren’t training with them, you could still learn just by watching them.

“A great experience, I loved it.

“I’ve been a City fan all my life so being there was unbelievable.

“But I already knew I was probably going to get released at some point because I wasn’t one of the best players in the world!

“You’re competing against the world at youth level because they bring in kids from all over.

“I didn’t beat myself up about it. You’ve got to believe in yourself and hope you can prove people wrong.”

Hardy had trials at a few Championship clubs before joining Fylde, where he has been for three-and-a-half years, winning their Young Player of the Year Award in 2016-17 as they earned promotion to the National League.

“I joined mid-way through a season, and the season after that I became one of the important players.

“I had a few injuries second-half of that season but I’ve enjoyed my time there.

“I had a hernia operation in November and I was out for three-and-a-half months. I only started training again towards the end of January.

“I’ve played a few in-house games but the gaffer said ‘the team are flying right now, it’s hard to get you guaranteed minutes on the pitch, and if you want to go on loan, you can.’

“I just want to play football, so I didn’t have a problem with him saying that. I just want to prove my fitness and hopefully hit the ground running here.

“It’s an initial month and then we’ll see what everyone’s plans are.”

Hardy says he likes to play just behind the striker or out wide.

“I wouldn’t say I’m an out-and-out winger in terms of pace and power.

“I like to come inside and link up with players and chip in with goals and assists.

“I want to help the team get results, and prove my fitness.

“I want to play as much as I can and get back match-fit.

“I’m not match-fit right now but the only way you get there is playing games.

“Hopefully I can show the fans what I’m about and help the team get the points on the board we need.”

When asked how far he can go in the game, the 22-year-old said: “You’ve got to believe in yourself. Obviously it’s a massive step but in the last few years at Fylde I have had interest,

“No-one’s put a high enough bid in for the club to accept, but I’m not really thinking about that.

“I just want to enjoy my football and try to stay fit for as long as I can.”