GEORGE Pratt is relishing his first opportunity to play adult football with Hyde United.
It is all part of the football education and development for the 18-year-old who is a scholar at Championship club Blackburn Rovers.
Pratt, who can play as a central defender or holding midfield, has been signed in what is effectively a loan but which is classified work experience due to his status at Blackburn.
Since arriving at The Project Solar Stadium, Pratt has featured in all four games.
He was in defence in the defeats to Mossley, Warrington Town and Buxton and came off the bench in the second half to play an anchor role in midfield in Saturday’s home derby win against Ashton United.
Pratt admitted the cut and thrust of the Northern Premier League is far removed to the Under-18 Premier League of which Blackburn are currently top.
He said: “It is a very different style to the U18s which I would describe as prettier football and all on the floor.
“Here, there are a lot more long balls, it is a lot more physical and I am up against bigger and far more experienced players.
“It took the first game to get used to the pace and physicality, but I am pleased overall how things have gone.
“The standard of football is different to the youth team, but it is good experience for my development.”
When Hyde came in for Pratt, Blackburn thought it would be great for his development to play in the NPL.
And Pratt has learned a lot, especially from playing alongside the vastly experienced Jordan Fagboola in the centre of defence.
He explained: “Jordan is talking all the time and that keeps you alive on the pitch.
“He is a great communicator and tells me how to be smarter against the forwards I have come up against.”
Pratt trains two nights each week with Hyde and on the other days he remains at Blackburn with the U18s.
He has been at Blackburn for the past two-and-a-half years after being spotted playing Sunday football in home-city Bradford.
He initially played for the U16s before being offered a two-year scholarship.
“I am in my second season, and it is a massive year for me to see whether I can a professional contract,” he explained.
Pratt, who is a Leeds United fan, said centre back is his preferred position, though he is happy to play a sitting midfield role.