James Trafford insists it is not a big thing for him taking on old club Accrington Stanley with Bolton Wanderers tomorrow and the Manchester City loanee joked he has had water bottles in his room for longer than his spell there.
The 19-year-old has spent the second half of the season on loan from City at Wanderers and has become the club’s first choice goalkeeper since arriving in the January transfer window.
Trafford spent the first half of the campaign on loan at tomorrow’s opponents Stanley, playing 11 times for John Coleman’s side but struggling to stay in the team at the Wham Stadium.
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His lack of game time towards the end of his spell prompted a cutting short of the loan and moving to Wanderers, for whom he has played every match he has been available for.
Though it did not work out for him at Accrington, Trafford bears no ill feelings towards Stanley and joked he has had bottles of water in his room for longer than his time there,
But it was the first loan of his career in men’s football and pointed to the experiences of the likes of Dean Hendererson, Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale earlier on in their respective journeys in the game.
And he feels he has kicked on since being at Wanderers and pointed to the amount he has learned in his time at the University of Bolton Stadium.
He said: “I was there for five months, it isn’t really a big thing. I have had bottles of water in my room for longer.
“It isn’t really a big thing for me. I wasn’t a bad egg around the place towards the end and I don’t think they have anything against me, nor do I against them, really.
“It was my first loan in the men’s game. And it was tough at times.
“But I think most top keepers in the game have had those loans – Henderson, Pickford, Ramsdale – they have all had times when they were younger keepers, it’s part of it.
“All the way through when it wasn’t working out I just tried to clear my head. I trusted the plan completely and then when I came here I was full of confidence and I have kicked on ever since.
“Since the first day I came in I have been surrounded by people who welcomed me, believed in me, the gaffer (Ian Evatt), Gillo (Matt Gilks), players and staff. It would have been easy for them not to take to me or even not to put me in straight away against Ipswich. But they gave me that confidence and as a young lad you need people to believe in you.
“We put on a really good set of results and we gave it our best shot to try and get into the play-offs, but it came short. Now we have to be relentless, going again and start now for next season.
“He (Evatt) is always striving for the best in everyone. Even if he has a go at someone for something in the game, he reflects on it and is always honest with you. He has been brilliant since the first day, believed in me, and told me exactly how it is. I hope that he has shown in my performances.
“It has been massive for me, learning to communicate with different players.
“You learn working with good defenders and people that you need to talk differently to some players, some you just leave them to it.
“From a development point of view it has been really good for me – working in a three or a four, what we have done in and out of possession, it is something I can take into next season and beyond.”
Trafford had perhaps one of his best games for Wanderers on Good Friday in the 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers.
Wanderers took the lead after the break against the League One strugglers thanks for Amadou Bakayoko slotting home after being found in the box by Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
The hosts got back on level terms thanks to substitute Mipo Odubeko smashing past James Trafford to give Donny hope.
But Wanderers scored not long after when former Donny man Sadlier fired home a marvelous volley from Dapo Afolayan’s pass to ensure the visitors took home the three points.
Trafford produced some fantastic shot stopping and none more so than the save from Josh Martin’s second half free kick.
The goalkeeper was praised for his confidence in coming for crosses in the encounter and dominance in that area, but the stopper believes he has always done so.
And he pointed to the defense in front of him having a big role and that he is happy to play his part when needed.
On the free-kick he saved, Trafford said: “There were loads of bodies in the way. I tried to get a better sight of it but then the ball deflected off someone’s quad, I got my hands behind it but as the ball deflected it hit the other side of my hand and bounced wide.
“It is what I am there to do. I can’t remember who fouled the guy on the edge of the box but I got him out of the mud… Another day he gets me out of the mud. It is a team sport, we help each other.
“I feel like I have come for a lot of crosses after my first few games but maybe this is more recent so people remember it?
“The gaffer, Gillo, it is what they want from me. It helps us all when I come to catch one and they can’t score if it is in my hands – or at least I think they can’t – so it is OK for me.
“If they shoot, I try my hardest to save it. We all played our part and even when we went a goal down we pegged them straight back, which shows what we are about.
“It would have been easy to give up at that stage and take a point but we kept our foot on the gas and got the win in the end.
“It was nice weather, so I enjoyed it. We brought a lot of fans and they were unbelievable again.
“We have learned a lot to take into next season. Not knowing when you are beat, similar to Oxford, they are good building blocks.
“I don’t know if it’s unusual but I have talked to a few people about it and I always say if this wasn’t fun, I just wouldn’t do it. I like to enjoy myself, whatever it looks like.
“The defense in front of me have been brilliant. Rico or if he doesn’t play, Will, Geth, Jonno, they have been unbelievable.
“Some days I am needed and when I am I want to play my part.
“We all have to pull our weight.”