Making the move away from the comfort of a Premier League club in search of regular first team football is a big step for a teenager. However, it was a step that AFC Fylde star James Hardy wasn’t afraid to make.

Hardy, 19, joined the Coasters from Premier League heavyweights Manchester City in October eager to establish himself as regular in the hunt for promotion to the National League.

The winger, who has dazzled in a Fylde shirt this Month, admitted that there was interest from clubs in the Football League but the opportunity of first-team football was too good to turn down.

“After City, I had a few trials at Championship and League One clubs but quite a few said that I wasn’t really ready for the first team. They wanted me to play for their under 21s and maybe a year later push for the first team but psychically, they didn’t think I was ready.

“After that, I thought that I should go and play regular football in non-league and prove that I can play in the first-team and hopefully I have done that.”

Fylde’s style of football was also a factor in attracting Hardy to sign as he compared it to that of his former club.

“Obviously the facilities are a lot different but the football that we play at Fylde is very decent. I’d say that it’s the best in the league. The style of football isn’t too different to Man City which suits me I think.”

After three years of youth football at City, Hardy expressed his delight at competing at the senior level of the game.

“It’s good because you can tell that results mean a lot more. It’s difficult to describe but you can tell that there is a clear different between playing under 21s football and playing first team football, no matter what level it is.

“It’s a lot more competitive. Sometimes the way other teams are set up, it’s hard to get the ball down but I’d say that I can still show glimpses in those games. Obviously, when we are at home on our own pitch, I feel that I can express myself a lot more then.”

After making the move, Hardy has said that initially it didn’t all go as he had planned on the Fylde Coast.

After a bright start, injuries and the form of other forwards in the squad kept Hardy out of the side but he has started three of Fylde’s last five games as he looks to make his mark towards to the end of the season.

“It was quite frustrating at the start because the team had won a lot of games so I knew I had to be patience. I got into the team for a bit but then I got injured and it was a bit stop start over January.

“I got back into the side against Boston and the last few weeks have been good to be fair. I’ve stayed in the team and I’m enjoying it a lot more now.

“When I joined, I didn’t expect to just play. Admittedly, I thought I was going to play more but we have some good players here at Fylde. There are definitely a few that can play at a higher level than they are now.”

Hardy’s recent form has earned him his place in the starting line-up and he highlighted his performance against Boston United as a major reason for his selection.

“Everything clicked into place in the Boston game. I played well, scored and Chall (Dave Challinor) said it was also up there with the team’s best performances this season. I think that I also played well against Stockport on Monday too.”

The season is entering the final stretch as the Coasters look to secure their place in the play-offs whilst still trying to chase down Solihull Moors at the top of the table but Hardy already harbours ambitions for next season’s involvement with Fylde whichever division the club are in.

“I definitely want to be more of regular next season and obviously I’m hoping that we get promoted as well. We would go full time which would help us with training but the main thing for me is playing week in, week out and obviously playing well.

“From what I’ve seen from our games against Barrow and Gateshead, especially Gateshead because they were towards the top of the league, I wouldn’t say that the different was too big. They were tight games and you couldn’t tell that we were the division below.”