ADAM CLAYTON has enjoyed getting to know his new Huddersfield Town teammates over the last few days and believes they will make a significant mark in the Championship this season.
The 23-year-old midfielder – signed on a three-year deal from Leeds for £400,000 – has no doubt Simon Grayson’s squad can handle the hot competition of the second tier.
And while he impressed under Grayson at Elland Road last term, learning a massive amount about the teams Town will come up against, the Manchester City product and former England Under 20 cap is confident the Galpharm club will see even more from him this term.
Handed the No8 shirt for a campaign which gets under way against Cardiff in Wales on Friday, August 17, Clayton explained: “I can’t wait to get cracking really.
“There is definitely more to come from me, because last season was my first proper Championship season and I learned an awful lot from the experience.
“I’m fitter and stronger after playing a lot of games at this level and I’m going to be better prepared both mentally and physically.
“There is no reason why I shouldn’t be just as good or better than my best form last season and I’m really looking forward to everything that’s ahead.
“My first impressions of the club are that it’s a really good, friendly working environment and everything is so positive, with everyone pulling in the same direction.”
Clayton says he was massively impressed by chairman Dean Hoyle and believes the club owner is providing exactly the right backing to take the club forward.
It was Grayson’s presence, however, which proved the biggest draw to moving down the M62 instead of looking further afield.
“The gaffer is very ambitious and he’s just like me in that he wants to go to the Premier League,” said Clayton, who played in the same England Under 20 team as former Town loanee Martin Kelly, the Liverpool defender who was part of Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad in Poland and Ukraine.
“With him being here, I knew I would enjoy all the day-to-day sessions as well as the way he wants his team to play football.
“Snods and Dusty (Glynn Snodin and Ian Miller, the coaches) keep training really bright and enjoyable and it’s a nice environment to work in.
“They make sure you are ready and that you want to go out and win, not just for the team, but for them as well.
“The gaffer and coaches are also great in the dressing room as well. If things aren’t going so well, the manager will have a word and Snods will have his say and they really get you motivated to turn things around, letting you know exactly what you’ve got to do.
“They are really good to work for and I was delighted to get the move all sorted before we returned for pre-season training.
“Wherever I might have gone, I was keen to make sure I got a full pre-season, because the last one I did was a massive help to me and I didn’t want to miss a minute this time.
“The fact I’m here doing pre-season just couldn’t be better and I am very excited about the season.”
Clayton says he has enjoyed the long break from the end of Leeds’ season and mostly relaxed over the summer, while keeping his fitness work ticking over (“I’m keen on training anyway”) and he feels ready for the rigours of another 46 games.
“The Championship is exciting, and they are all very competitive games,” he explained.
“It is similar to League I in terms of teams having a go at you, but it’s quicker and more clinical in the Championship.
“I don’t think we have anything to fear, but mistakes do get punished at this level and you have to keep your wits about you.
“It is tough, because you can play the top of the league and beat them 1-0 and, the following week, go to the bottom of the league and get beaten 2-0.
“It’s very close, with not much between any of the teams, so consistency is the real key.
“A good start also helps. It’s not the be all and end all, but if you get a good start you can go on a roll.”
Clayton says Grayson has been a big influence on his career, but also credits Miller and Steve Eyre (Town’s development coach) for their help when he was at Manchester City, where Mark Hughes gave him an extended contract.
He learned a lot, too, from Carlisle boss Greg Abbott when he was on loan at Brunton Park.
“The gaffer hasn’t really spoken too much to me about how he wants me to play, so I’m just aiming to build on what I did under him at Leeds and score my share of goals and provide some assists,” he said.
“I am looking forward to the Leeds games, obviously, and there is sure to be a bit of spice with the gaffer involved against his old club as well.
“All the games are great to look forward to, though, because it is such a great division. There are big clubs, terrific stadiums and I love just being a part of it.
“I can’t wait for the season to start and with the squad we’ve got here, I’m sure we will do well.”