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Jeff King enjoying life at Wanderers

11 October 2017

From non-league football to the London Stadium in less than a year, Jeff King is refusing to rest on his laurels after making his long-awaited Wanderers debut away at West Ham United last month.

Having joined the Whites midway through last season, the 21-year-old quickly caught the eye of manager Phil Parkinson following his arrival at Macron Stadium but was left ineligible for first team action due to the club's transfer embargo.

An attempt to register the versatile midfielder was denied by the EFL last season as he continued to impress for David Lee's Under-23s side.

Handed his senior opportunity in pre-season, King did not look out of place among the Trotters' first team squad during their summer training camp in Scotland, but remained sidelined come the start of the season with the embargo still in place.

However, that all changed in September with the midfielder quickly promoted to Wanderers' first team squad as soon as he was eligible to be registered.

After travelling with the Whites to Ipswich Town, he sampled his first taste of professional football at West Ham United's London Stadium in the Carabao Cup before being handed his Sky Bet Championship debut away at Bristol City the following week.

Now in contention to make his home debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Macron Stadium this weekend, King is hungry for more as he looks to make up for lost time.

“It’s been tough having to wait for reasons beyond my control,” King told bwfc.co.uk. “I think I’d done enough in my time at the club to have deserved that chance.

“I’ve had to wait for my debut so I’m glad that I’ve finally been able to get it out of the way. Everyone’s pleased for me and now I’m focussed on looking forward and getting another game.

“The gaffer thinks highly of me and I’m grateful to him for believing in me and giving me an opportunity.

“It felt brilliant to make my debut. To make it at the London Stadium in front of over 30,000 people was surreal but exciting, very exciting.

“I didn’t get much notice, I found out the day of the game. We were training in the morning and the gaffer told me I’d be starting, giving me time to let my friends and family know so they could come down and watch.”

He continued: “I think I did ok. It was different from how I’d normally play for the Under-23s as normally I’d be a little more advanced but I did what the gaffer asked me to do. I kept the ball and won my tackles and I enjoyed it.

“This is only the beginning and I have a lot of work still to do. We’ve got a lot of experience at the club and you need that in this league. They’ve all been great for me.

“I’m still young, I’m still learning. I need to get fitter, I want to get more minutes under my belt but I’ve got to be patient.

“I’m a young player and need to bide my time. I’ve had that first taste now and will keep working hard for more.

Reflecting on his rise, King is keeping his feet on the ground as he acknowledges how far he has come in such a short space of time.  

“I’ve had knockbacks but in the past year I’ve gone from playing non-league to full-time professional football,” he said.

“Training twice a week to training five, six or seven times a week. I was at academies when I was younger like most players then went into men’s football at 16.

“I was on the bench for Altrincham a lot in the Conference. I went on loan to a few teams in the Evo Stick and then I last played for Witton Albion before Bolton took a chance on me.

“I’d never done a full pre-season before coming here and it was tough in the early weeks in the summer.

“But then we went away to Scotland and it was a different environment. I really enjoyed that.

He continued; “The biggest crowds I’d played in front of before would have been around 300 people and that was in the early rounds of the FA Cup.

“To go from that to playing my first professional game at the London Stadium was unbelievable.

“It’s been a learning curve but I’m working hard, carrying on and developing well. Long may it continue.”


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