Feels just like home

CRAIG Dawson aims to catch up with a few old friends after returning to his Lancashire roots.

Wanderers’ new loan signing still has dreams of making it big in the Premier League with West Brom, and has his sights on lifting the European Championship trophy this summer with Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21s.

But the 22-year-old defender aims to enjoy his time back in the North West, and on the damp midweek nights to come before the end of the season, may well be found visiting a few of his old haunts.

Dawson bounced around a number of local clubs – including Bury – as a teenager before being taken under the wing of Radcliffe Borough boss Kevin Glendon five years ago in the earthy surroundings of Stainton Park.

And though the youngster has gone on to bigger things with Rochdale, then the Baggies, he still holds the non league club dear.

“I still keep in touch with a lot of the lads from those days, especially Kevin,” he said. “I’m sure now I’m back up here I’ll be able to get down and watch a few games.

“I wasn’t committed to any club as a junior. I had a few trials at different clubs. I left Bury when I was quite young when they had some financial troubles and I just wanted to enjoy playing football with my friends.

“That led me to Radcliffe. It was a great set-up and I enjoyed my time there.”

Dawson could get his Wanderers debut today at Watford but has made the majority of his professional appearances so far at Spotland, under the tutelage of two more Boltonians.

“Keith Hill and Dave Flitcroft taught me well and put a lot of one-to-one effort in with me,” he said. “They probably helped me get where I am today. I keep in touch with Hilly but basically just as friend.”

To complete the local set, Dawson’s bother Andy also turns out regularly for Boro’s league rivals Ramsbottom United.

But right now, Dawson is keeping his focus on getting into Dougie Freedman’s side at the Reebok. And after spending just over a week training with the club, he already feels well at home.

“Being local, I used to watch out for their results. I spoke to the manager and really liked what he had to say,” he said. “I knew it was the club for me.

“I spoke to Marvin Sordell, who I know from the England Under-21s and Team GB, and Keith Andrews, and tried to get a feel for the place before I came here.”

Dawson will return to England duty early next week with a friendly against Sweden.

He was also given recognition in Team GB’s Olympic team, featuring against Uruguay and netting a penalty in the shoot-out defeat against South Korea.

But he admits the honour prevented him from fully appreciating Britain’s summer of sport. “It was a great experience to be alongside Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy,” he said. “It was a hectic schedule so we didn’t really see any other sports.

“It was all about training, recovery and preparing for the next game. We spent a couple of nights in the village and saw a few other sportsmen whose faces we recognised but that was it.”

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