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James Tarkowski (JT), a product of Oldham Athletic’s youth system, is steadily establishing himself at Boundary Park.

So what’s it like for a young player breaking into the first 11? Interview by Josh Lawless (JL).

James TarkowskiJL: Towards the end of last season, you really worked your into the starting 11 at Oldham and established yourself as a first-team regular, what do you put that down to?

JT: It was a mixture of a few things really, one was working hard in training to keep myself in good condition. Also playing well for the reserves and then a bit of luck with other player in my positions getting injuries or suspensions.

JL: Since breaking into the first-team, you have formed a terrific partnership with Jean-Yves M’Voto, what is it like playing alongside such a strong defender in the air, does it help your performance?

JT: Playing with Jean you can have the confidence that he is going to win all his headers and defend well, that helps me concentrate on my own game more. He also brings some experience even though he isn’t that old, he has played a lot of league games at this level.

JL: What was it like to finally make your debut in January 2011 against Brentford, was it a relief to finally get some action on the pitch after a lot of hard work?

JT: It came as a big surprise for me to be honest, all of a sudden I was thrown into a men’s game which I had little experience in and I had to grow up quick if I wanted to stay at that level.

JL: You’ve now made 25 appearances for the Latics, are you hoping to get even more game time this season?

JT: I hope to play every game this season, obviously there’s certain factors which will affect that such as fitness, suspensions and performances. But I just want to do my best for the club and myself.

JL: With the season just around the corner, what do you personally feel is the realistic target that the Latics can achieve this season?

JT: We just want to put ourselves in a good position come the last 10 games of the season and give ourselves a chance of fighting for promotion. Everybody knows our budget isn’t massive but the manager has brought in some very good players into a good squad, you never know what can happen.

JL: You started the friendly victory against Manchester City, what was it like to be up against some of the greatest players in the world?

JT: A great experience I won’t forget, to play against players of there ability showed how talented and gifted people are at the top of their game.

JL: What is it like to play under Paul Dickov, what sort of managerial style does he posses do you think?

JT: The minimum he wants from his players is to give everything you have on the pitch and listen to instructions given to us. And if we do that week in week out, we will have a good chance.

JL: How was you feeling when you netted your first goal on the final day of last season?

JT: It was a special moment in my career, I’d been close a few times but to finally score a professional goal finished my season on a very high note.

JL: Who in your opinion is the greatest player you have come up against?

JT: I must say Samir Nasri, his ability to keep the ball under pressure is something I had never been faced with before. Composure and footwork was world-class.

JL: What do you make of the signings that Oldham have made, can they make a huge impact this season?

JT: We’ve brought in Premier League experience with Lee Croft and Jonathan Grounds, then some young lads like myself trying to make a name for themselves in the game. All have fitted in well and there’s great morale around the team.

JL: In pre-season Oldham seem to be playing some super football, is playing entertaining football something the Latics are trying to do this season?

JT: Our main aim is to win games, but if we can entertain fans with good passing and movement with goals at the end, then all the better.

JL: You’re still only young, but what do you hope to have achieved in football, come the end of your career?

JT: To play at the highest level possible, where that is for me I’m yet to know, but I will work hard and hopefully it will pay off for me.

JL: From the stands, Dean Furman looks quite a vocal guy on the pitch, is he a good leader?

JT: He’s a good leader in a couple of ways. Not only is he vocal, he sets good examples on and off the pitch. One of the most dedicated players I’ve worked with and will give you his everything every time we train or play.

JL: Growing up, who was your footballing inspiration or role model?

JT: I grew up a Manchester United fan, so with the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes, I had to admire their ability and hope that one day I could play at the same level as them.

Post written by Josh Lawless
Blog: Back of the Net, Twitter: @BackOfTheNetJL

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