Audio: Ipswich Town’s Paul Digby was left out by Barnsley, but he’s been on trial at Manchester United and trained with Wayne Rooney with England
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Don’t judge a book by its cover. When Paul Digby joined Ipswich Town on loan at the start of January it was, from the outside looking in, a strange bit of business.
Here was a 20-year-old that couldn’t even get in the starting line-up of League One side Barnsley, joining a Championship club well positioned for a promotion push.
Dig a little deeper though and what initially seemed an underwhelming mid-season transfer, could well turn end up being viewed as something of a coup.
Asked about his lack of game-time with the Tykes, Digby – who impressed on his full Championship debut at Middlesbrough last weekend and could start again in tomorrow’s home game against MK Dons – explained: “I thought I might be going to Man United (after a two-week trial last summer) and the manager (Lee Johnson, now of Bristol City) brought in players around that time. Some managers have visions for their team and you’re just not involved in that. That’s fine, you just have to focus on doing it somewhere else – it doesn’t mean you are a bad player. You just have to go and show another manager that you’re right for their team.”
He may have made only one league start and two Johnstone’s Paint Trophy substitute appearances in the first half of the season, but confidence was never an issue.
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“Going to Man U on trial was an unbelievable experience,” said Digby. “All the boys there work so hard and I’ve seen so many of the ones I trained with get in the first team recently and I’m not surprised because the amount of effort they put in day-in, day-out is phenomenal. That’s something I tried to take away from my time there. I want to work that hard every day. I think I’ll draw on that throughout my career now.
“They were all so humble too, they’re not big time, and that’s good to see from young lads at such a massive club. That’s how I want to be.”
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Asked why he wasn’t offered a deal at Old Trafford, he explained: “I was 20 at the time and they were maybe looking for someone a year or so younger. I’m grateful for the experience, but I wanted to come and play first team football and get into men’s football. I think it’s important to get out of 21s football. It can be a big jump, but you have to make that jump and it seemed the right time for me.”
And on his experiences with England at youth team level, he said: “I’ve loved going away with England’s Under-19s and Under-20s. I got to train with the seniors one day and was up against Rooney, Welbeck and Sturridge. All these experiences definitely do help and give you the belief you can do it.”