Irish calls have helped Town youngster progress

Jack James on his full debut for the Hatters
Jack James on his full debut for the Hatters

Teenage full back Jack James believes his Ireland U19s call-ups have helped benefit his progress for the Hatters this year.

The youngster, who made his full debut in the 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Peterborough last week, has missed the other group stage games in the competition due to his international involvement.

It’s definitely helped me develop as a player.

Jack James

James featured heavily as the Republic of Ireland U19s reached the Elite Round of the UEFA U19 Championship with games against Bosnia & Herzegovina Faroe Islands and Holland earlier in the campaign.

When asked if he felt it had improved his game, he said: “Massively. I’ve played against some top players from Europe, I’ve played against Holland who are a top country and they had some of the best players I’ve played against.

“It’s definitely helped me develop as a player.

“We’ve got the Elite Phase which we qualified for in March, so hopefully if I get picked, I’ll look forward to that.”

The hard work paid off for James at the ABAX Stadium, although he was used on the left hand side of defence during the game.

Up against a tricky opponent in Marcus Maddison, he continued: “In Ireland I played all three games at left back, so I’m used to it.

“I’m not going into it new, just do what you do at right back, do it on the left.

“He’s (Maddison) decent, he can come inside, outside, he’s got a trick, can cross it, can shoot, so a decent player to come up against.

“It’s good for me, good for my learning, and getting to know the game better.

“I had a funny feeling I would start and found out the day before, so I just made sure I went home, prepared right, like a normal game, like I would.

“I was nice to have that time to calm down as it can be nervous coming into a first start to settle myself and get into the game”.

James, who was awarded his first professional deal at Kenilworth Road during the summer, admitted that making the move from the U18s had proved a big step up.

He said: “I found it tough at the start, Il’l admit that, but I’m building into it.

“I feel like I’ve got a bit better now, got some momentum, doing better in training and feel like I’m kicking on a bit.”

James is one of a number of Town players to benefit from the club’s Checkatarade policy which has youth given their opportunity.

He said: “He (Nathan) Jones uses this competition to bring the young players through like me, Josh (Neufville), previously even with Tyreeq (Bakinson), Akin (Famewo).

“This competition has helped them out massively, so it’s a real positive for us.”

James is now hoping to feature against Southend in the second round which is on Wednesday, December 5, adding: “If I keep working hard and keep doing what I’m doing, I might get an opportunity to show what I can do.”