AFC Fylde left back Adam Sumner believes he has learnt from the best since former Premier League ace Stephen Crainey joined the club.

Sumner, who was Dave Challinor’s first signing as Coasters’ boss back in November 2011, has been a regular for the club over the past four years, but has found competition fierce this season.

The 24-year-old suffered an injury earlier in the campaign and lost his place to Alex Whittle and then Crainey following his arrival in early December.

However, Sumner has recently won back his place in Challinor’s plans and admits his main competition for the left-back spot has helped him improve as a player.

“To keep someone like Stephen Crainey out of the team is quite satisfying! Crains is great to have around the place. He’s an experienced player who has played at the top level of the game.

“It’s great to watch him in training and learning from him has really helped me. Even though he is getting towards the end of his career now, you can tell he still has quality and that at the peak of his career that he was a very good footballer.    

“It’s been tough since I got injured watching on from the sidelines, but the manager has given me a chance and I’m delighted to have kept my place in the team.

“I’ve hardly missed any games since I joined so this year has been a little more difficult for me personally. It has been hard to get back into the team because of the competition in my position.

“At first Alex was playing well and then Crains came in and he has been very good so I’ve had to bide my time.

“I’ve filled in at right-back at times too but that’s no problem. It’s similar to left back really, it just means I have to swing my wooden right leg at the ball a bit more!”

Fylde have a busy weekend ahead with the visit of Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday followed by a trip to Stockport County on Easter Monday.

The third-placed Coasters currently trail National League North leaders Solihull Moors by nine points with eight games to play, but Sumner hasn’t given up hope yet.  

“I wouldn’t rule top spot out just yet. We all know it’s Solihull’s to lose now and if we had got all three points on Saturday against Nuneaton then it might have put the pressure on. But if we can continue our good run then you never know.

“We want to keep picking up points and secure at least second spot in the league to give us the best possible chance in the play-offs.

“Considering the start we had to the season I’d definitely count a play-off place as a successful season. I don’t think we are as strong as last season when we were scoring goals for fun.

“We went and had a look around Mill Farm the other day and it looks brilliant. Hopefully we will be moving in there in a higher league.

“Ever since I signed for the club the ambition to get to the football league has been there and I just want to get as high as possible.”