ENGLAND youth international Jack Barmby is used to sharing a training pitch with world class players including the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie.
But the on-loan Manchester United forward admits he is loving his time at Hartlepool United and the chance of playing regular first-team football just as much.
While Pools may be three divisions between Barmby’s parent club the feeling of pulling on a first team shirt is an exciting one for the forward who insists he is determined to make the most of it.
Yet the 19-year-old has had a mixed experience so far after signing in the January transfer window on an initial month-long loan deal, recently extended to the end of March.
From scoring a wonder goal on his Pools and Football League debut in the 2-0 home win over York City, to spending time out of the team and on the bench.
But with Luke Williams returning to Middlesbrough after a four-week loan spell, the chance has arisen for Barmby to fill the gap playing just behind the front pairing of Luke James and Marlon Harewood.
While he was subbed just after an hour in the 2-0 defeat to Northampton, he bounced back in style, scoring another excellent goal to give Pools the lead in the 3-0 win over Torquay last time out.
Barmby said: “I am really enjoying my time at Pools.
“Everybody has made me feel very welcome and hopefully we will be able to kick on and get into that play-off spot.
“It is nice to be playing regularly – that is what I came here to do.
“But the most important thing is for the team to do well so I don’t mind coming off the bench as long as I am contributing.
“I’m pleased with my performances, scoring the goal on my Pools and League debut was a great experience.
“It was a dream debut – as a little kid growing up that is what you dream of. Playing in a stadium in front of a crowd, scoring a goal in the top bin.
“The goal against Torquay was a good finish as well but you can do all the finishing practice in the world but really it is just instinct.
“Get the ball, turn and finish and luckily it went in the top corner.”
Comfortable on either wing or in a more central attacking role, Barmby shone for Manchester United’s youngsters at the 2011 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, during which he scored a stunning solo goal against Pools.
The England Under-18 and Under-19 international was top scorer for their youth team in 2011-12 and subsequently won a Young Player of the Year Award. At his parent club the 19-year-old trains with both the first team and development squads.
Barmby added: “The first team at Manchester United are preparing for games all of the time so it can be difficult because they are playing in the Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League etc.
“But when they are not preparing for games we train with them. Do five-a-sides with the first-team players and it is a great experience.
“It is different being at Pools but it is competitive football here.
“The Under-21s has a league which is competitive but it is nothing like getting three points and trying to get up the league and into the play-offs.
“There are people with families here and people’s livelihoods so that side is totally different too.”
Barmby is, of course, the son of former England international Nick Barmby, who has been a regular visitor to Victoria Park during his loan spell, watching him from the stands.
Barmby Jnr, with two goals and an assist in six appearances, added: “My dad has been at every home game and tries to get to as many away games as well.
“He is a keen supporter and likes to watch me and my 13-year-old brother George.
“He plays for Derby County and is doing well so he tries to see both of us play as much as possible.
“George is also a centre forward – he scored a hat-trick against Manchester City this week – it would be nice if I could repeat that at the weekend.”