"It's massive to be playing, that's the main thing," says Town midfielder Cooke

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It's been a season of firsts for Jamie Cooke so far this campaign.

The midfielder made his debut for Halifax at Barnet on the opening day of the season, was involved in his first Town win at Scunthorpe on August 29, started back-to-back games in the win over York on October 4, and then made that three consecutive starts for The Shaymen last time out at Maidstone.

Plenty of Town fans feel the 20-year-old should be one of the first names o the team-sheet for Town, given Cooke's tenacious, all-action, attacking style of play.

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The former Fleetwood youngster joined the club last summer but had to be patient for his first-team breakthrough.

Jamie CookeJamie Cooke
Jamie Cooke

After a stop-start beginning to the season, like the Town team, Cooke appears to have cemented a starting spot.

"It's been a mix, it's been up and down," Cooke said of his season so far.

"I've been happy to start the last couple of games, but before that it was taking every opportunity I had to come into the team, try to take it with both hands and help the team as much as I could."

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The midfielder admitted being in and out of the side isn't ideal when trying to fight for a regular first-team place.

"It can be difficult but you take it how it comes," he said.

"I'm not the type of person to dwell on things, if it's the case I'm not in the squad I'd be looking at every possibility I could do to get in the eyesight of the gaffer in training for the week after, and just to try to keep impressing and keep showing what I can do."

Cooke says Town boss Chris Millington is approachable over team selection.

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"Obviously being here last year, me and the gaffer have a good relationship and we talk to each other about those things," said Cooke.

"If I feel things aren't going my way, I feel I can pull him and have a chat with him and say 'what more can I do, what do you need off me to prove myself?'

"It's good to have that relationship with him and for him to give me that advice on what to do."

Cooke's performances in helping Town to four points from their last two games should be enough for him to retain his place for Saturday's FA Cup clash at St Ives Town.

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"I hope so, obviously football can change in a heartbeat," he said.

"Even if I do, I'd never take it for granted because I know how quickly things can change.

"No matter what, I'll always keep my head down, keep working and keep grafting, just to try and keep that place in the team.

"For me, it's massive to be playing, that's the main thing, that's what I want to do."

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Another first for Cooke could soon be his first goal for Town.

"I feel it's coming, hopefully, touch wood!" said Cooke, who hit the post in Town's win over York and saw a good effort saved against Maidstone.

"The last two games, I've come away from the games gutted because I didn't get the first goal.

"The way things are going, if I keep working hard, keep the momentum, good things will come."

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Cooke spent time out on loan last season, but feels those experiences helped him to develop as a player.

"I feel like I've got plenty more experience, definitely, which was the plan when I first came in under Pete Wild," he said.

"He said to me that my first year I'd be out on loan, getting that experience and my second year I'd be competing for a place.

"That first year helped massively, the teams I was on loan with - Matlock, Curzon, FC United, they helped massively with gaining that experience, giving me that freedom to learn, and credit to those teams who've pushed me on and made me a bit more hungry to want a spot here, and to make my name here.

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"I feel like I've gained that experience now and I want that experience at this level."

Cooke says he is "definitely" good enough to play regularly in the National League.

"I've got a lot to prove still and that'll come with games and as the season goes on," he said.

"I feel like I've got plenty to prove and that gives me determination to want to do really well in this league, because I've got something to prove.

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"I've been unlucky and had a bit of a different career, and stepped down and I'm trying to work my way back up, I've got a lot to prove and I feel like that helps massively."

Cooke has arguably been one of the more positive aspects of the season so far for Town in what has been a hugely underwhelming start to the campaign.

"Going into the season, on the back of pre-season, we had a really good group of lads, we'd bonded well, we were getting on," he said.

"With the first run of games it was a bit of a shock to everyone because we've got the quality within the group, it was just about finding that intensity I feel.

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"Off the back of the last couple of games I feel like we're really coming into our own, really showing our identity and showing who Halifax Town are."

Town are only above the bottom four in the National League on goal difference, but Cooke is convinced that Halifax will soon climb away from the drop zone.

"Everyone will be quick to judge and have their opinion on things, I think the main thing is to just stick with us," he said.

"We know this group of players and this team isn't a relegation team, it's not.

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"The quality we've got here, it's not a relegation team, no way.

"With how positive the last few weeks have looked, be with us, keep on us, keep on our backs and support us because it's massive going into games, you want the fans there, cheering you, you want them being as positive as possible because that brings the best out of the lads."

And Cooke is also insistent that the Town squad's belief in themselves hasn't wavered despite their poor start.

"Definitely, definitely," he said.

"The start of the season has been a bit of a wake-up call to be honest.

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"It's taken us longer than it should have but now we understand the level we need to be at as a group to have that togetherness.

"I think there's much better things to come."

Town turn their attention to the FA Cup this weekend, against St Ives Town, who are two divisions lower than The Shaymen.

"They'll be no pushovers whatsoever, it was the same last season in all our cup games, they weren't pushovers either," Cooke said.

"It doesn't matter about the league, it's all about the day and it'll just be a case of us coming into our own, using our momentum from the last couple of weeks of how positive things have been, and using that to our advantage to try and overcome this round.

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"They'll come out all guns blazing, they'll be right up for it because they're obviously playing a team from a league above.

"So it'll be a good game, everyone's looking forward to it. We just need to be on our top game and we'll get the better of them."

And in a season of firsts for Cooke, what chance of a first Town goal to help The Shaymen into the first round proper?

"I hope so," said Cooke, "I hope so! I'm desperate!"