James Blades bids to show his sharpness at Hadleigh United next season

James Blades, left, in action for Hadleigh United

James Blades, left, in action for Hadleigh United - Credit: PAUL ASHTON

JAMES Blades has his sights set on showing his sharpness with Hadleigh United next season.

The 23-year-old has suffered an injury-hit first season with the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side he joined in the summer.

But he is hoping to put that behind him and is set to sign a new one-year deal with the Brettsiders at today’s final match of the season away to Diss Town.

Blades said: “Apart from the injuries I have been pleased with how the season has gone and I like the club.

I have spoken to the manager, Stuart Crawford, and he is keen for me to sign for next season if I want to, which is looking likely. Because of the injuries I have had I want to give it a real go here next season.

“Obviously there is a big difference between the commitment at this level and the SIL – players are fitter and stronger and the pace of the game is quicker as well. Chances are few and far between – in the SIL Senior Division you will get five or six chances compared to one at this level, so you have to take them when you get them.”

Blades played his youth football at Leiston, but when he was 18 had a year out injured with a cruciate injury to his left knee.

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He said: “I then joined Leiston St Margaret’s where I spent three years. “In my first year we were relegated from the Senior Division, but the following year we won Division One and got to the Suffolk Junior Cup final, but we lost to Glemsford & Cavendish.

“In my third year I was second top scorer in the Senior Division behind Matt Morgan of Felixstowe United.”

It was during last season that Hadleigh United manager Stuart Crawford put in a seven-day approach for Blades around Christmas.

Blades said: “I told him I wanted to see the season out with Leiston St Margaret’s because things were going well and he said to give him a call pre-season.

“I wanted to better myself and play at a higher level, so I came here in the summer.”

But after a promising start to the season Blades, who has yet to finish on the losing side for Hadleigh when he has started a match this season, has had more than his share of injury problems.

He had only been on the pitch a few minutes in a Red Insure Cup tie at home to Haverhill Rovers in early December when he suffered ankle ligament damage that sidelined him for a month.

Then at Ely City in mid-February he tore a hamstring in his first start on his comeback and has only just returned to action, but showed his commitment to the club by attending every match while he was on the sidelines.