RYAN Noble could be back at Hartlepool United next season after admitting League One is the perfect platform to launch his career – but the Premier League remains his ultimate goal.
The Sunderland loanee (left) – who turns 21 in June – has been at Victoria Park for three weeks now, scoring one goal from five starts.
In that time manager Neale Cooper has spoken of his desire to extend Noble’s stay into next season.
The former England youth ace previously endured an unhappy loan stint at Derby County in the early part of 2012, where appearance was restricted to just two substitute outings.
And that is why he’s delighted his move to Pools has finally given him the showground to prove his worth.
“Obviously League One is a challenge and I think the Championship might have been a step too far for me at this stage,” said Noble as he compared spells at Pride Park and the Vic.
“But to come down to this level is perfect and I think I will prove myself. I was getting on the bench at Sunderland at the start of the season but when the team was doing so well I was in and out a little bit.
“I thought ‘I’m 20 years old now and I need to start playing’. So to come here is brilliant for me.”
His ambition, though, remains the top flight at the Stadium of Light.
“Hopefully this is a stepping stone towards making it at Sunderland,” added the Wearside-born frontman. “When I go back I might get a chance but I’ll only get that through working hard and doing well here.”
Noble doesn’t have to look too far around the Pools dressing room to see examples of players who, having failed to make the grade at the top level, have relaunched their career in the Football League.
Indeed, Peter Hartley – odds-on favourite to land the club’s player-of-the-season prize – is a former Sunderland reserve-team colleague of Noble. And the loan star admits he can take inspiration from his friend’s turnaround.
“I know Peter Hartley from Sunderland,” he explained. “He’s improved a lot since then and is a top player here. He’s so solid at the back.
“Sometimes you have to make that drop down to come back up and he’s proving himself fantastically. I messaged him before I came asking what it was like and he said it was fantastic. So I’m enjoying it and just want to prove myself by scoring as many goals as possible.”