Continuing our series where we keep tracks on our on loan players this week we caught up with young forward Albie Hopkins who is currently on loan at Rushden and Diamonds and who scored his first senior goal at the weekend.
“It’s a good standard” he told us “Rushden try and play good football, certainly for that level. There are a few who have been pros at places like Cambridge and Peterborough and a few senior players who have played at a really good level as well. Most of them have played at a very high level in non-league at some stage as well so it’s a decent set up and I’m enjoying it.
“I have been playing on the left up front in a 4-3-3 shape. Results have been a bit hit and miss; a couple of wins, couple of draws and a couple of losses but we had a really good 5-1 win last time and I managed to score my first goal as well, which was nice. It came from a goal kick that got flicked on and I got on to it and dinked the keeper with my right foot.”
As with so many of United’s promising youngsters Albie is finding the loan to the Diamonds is part of his football education.
“It’s something I definitely felt I needed to do” he says.” I have always played against people my own age rather than men’s football so it was a step up and something that is going to help me. Under 23 football is often about possession, but non-league is sometimes more about putting it in to good areas and not taking risks because the results are all important.”
The Under 23 side rightly earned applause for beating Swansea City last week:
“That was a great win for us” Albie said. “The way we defended so well after scoring was very good and it was good to have the Gaffer there watching us as well. The 23s have got on really well so far. Obviously there are five of us who came through the youth team and we are very close but the other lads who have come in have fitted in really well too. We tried to explain what the club is all about and set an example but they are all good lads and we have got on really well as a squad.”
And if they want inspiration then the young U’s can always look at the progress that Shandon Baptiste has made over the last three months.
“Shandon is a great role model to anyone in the 23s or youth team. He didn’t really get a chance at all last season but this year he has got in to the side, captained them against Man City and earned a new contract. So he is a brilliant example to all of us to keep working, have the right attitude and keep pushing to be the best we can.”