JOE Riley has stepped out at Old Trafford this season, helped Wanderers gain sweet revenge over Stoke City and saved them from embarrassment in the FA Cup – but he can still pop down to the shop unrecognised for a pint of milk for his mum.

A rapid rise from reserve team football at Leyland to the bright lights of the Premier League hasn’t meant a change in lifestyle for the 20-year-old full-back, who admits he is still coming to terms with the exalted company he is keeping.

But given his performances since breaking into Owen Coyle’s team to face Macclesfield Town in the Carling Cup in August, it might not be long before the autograph hunters come calling on a regular basis.

“I haven’t been asked for many yet – well, maybe the odd time,” smiled the young defender, whose first press interview og his career was set against the backdrop of Wanderers’ players’ canteen at Euxton.

“Maybe there will be a few more in the future, but I’ve got a lot of time. Of course, I want to play all the time right now but sometimes you’ve got to understand that you are still learning the game.

“I’ll be patient and I’m trying to improve game by game. I’m still settling in.”

Riley, who still lives with his parents just 15 miles from the Reebok in Salford suburb Boothstown, has been a mainstay of Wanderers’ cup teams this term and looks a good bet to continue his progress against Swansea City this afternoon.

He has been with the club since the tender age of seven, rejecting overtures from Manchester United and Manchester City to sign his first professional contract last March.

In fact, you could argue his total service puts him just behind stalwarts Jussi Jaaskelainen and Ricardo Gardner in the club’s list of longest-serving players.

Certainly, a maturity shown on his Premier League debut, a 5-0 victory over Stoke, and match-saving tackles against Macclesfield at a muddy Moss Rose earlier this month in the FA Cup suggest this is just the start of a long Wanderers career for the former Walkden High School pupil.

“It has been a long road,” Riley said. “And that’s why I owe my parents a lot because for 10 years of my life they were taking me down to training three nights a week.

“It’s a big deal for them to see me doing quite well.

“Watching me go out and play at Old Trafford a few weeks ago was a big thing because my dad used to be a season ticket holder there. I had a lot of friends in the stand as well, so to get on there was massive.

“My mum’s side of the family are from Atherton and most of them are Bolton fans, so it’s made it all worthwhile.

“I do owe a lot to a lot of people – the coaches that brought me through, my family. They have all stuck with me.”

With such emphasis being placed on homegrown talent under Owen Coyle, Riley accepts there is a weight of expectation on his young shoulders.

“Probably the last local lad to come through was Nicky Hunt, so I suppose there’s a bit of pressure,” he said. “But from my point of view, I have set standards now and it’s a case of making sure I reach them every time I get an opportunity.”