JEROME Fitzgerald is going to keep his head down to try and win a contract at Accrington Stanley - and also to avoid any practical jokes.
The new boy played his first game for the Reds against Halifax on Saturday following his move from UniBond side Stalybridge Celtic. The 25-year-old knows he is out to impress boss John Coleman before the end of this season if he is to sign up to Stanley's cause full-time in the summer.
But the left back also admitted he is keeping an eye on his new team-mates.
"They have really welcomed me here, it is like any club," said the Darwen-born player. "I am just waiting for the practical jokes, though!"
Fitzgerald is rated as one of the best left backs in the UniBond Premier League but is playing at his highest level in the Conference with Stanley.
"I really enjoyed playing against Halifax," said Fitzgerald, who left university last year. "I have not played at this level before so I had to get my head down and concentrate but I thought I played quite well. I didn't expect to walk into the team but I know if I get my chance I have got to take it.
"When I was asked to come here, I didn't even have to think about it with the club playing in the Conference. The boss told me he had watched me for a while and said: "I think you can do it" but I have got to go out and prove to myself that I can do it. If I get a contract, it is because I deserve it and if I don't it is because I don't deserve it."
Fitzgerald was orginally a left winger but moved into defence when the regular left back was injured at Stalybridge and they started playing a different system.
"We started playing 4-3-3 so there was no need for any wingers so I had to go to left back," he continued. "But I enjoy it there, you get a lot of the ball and get to go forward but it is hard work as you have to make sure you get back as well.
"In this team though I have Rory (Prendergast) in front of me who is a great player. All I have to do is give him the ball and make sure I back him up and defend well."
And, so far, he has found it comfortable moving up into the top level of non-League football.
"Joining Accrington is good for me because it is a local club which is doing really well," he said. "As a player, you always want to play as high a level as you can and, as I was never a professional when I was younger, then this is my way, even if I have got into it a bit late, of being a professional footballer. If I get my chance I have got to take it.
"I enjoyed it against Halifax, when they went down to 10 men it was easier but I don't think they troubled us too much. I just want to get my head down, work hard and see what happens."