MICKEY Stones will not be taking a summer off from football - instead he will be working hard on his fitness as he hopes to earn a first-team place at Boston United.
The 26-year-old Lincolnshire lad is desperate to add to his solitary run-out for the Pilgrims in the Blue Square Bet North last season.
The striker may have taken just over three minutes to mark his debut with a strike in front of the Town End as Boston beat Vauxhall Motors 2-0, but he knows he still has to do a lot more to impress new managers Jason Lee and Lee Canoville.
“I’m going to work hard to get in better shape,” the striker told The Standard.
“Jason said to me that I’ve got the summer to get myself fit.
“He said that if I want to move up from the reserves then I’ve got to get fitter.
“I know that myself, and it’s something I’m determined to do.”
Stones became an instant hero among the United fans with his debut strike, although many supporters had been calling for the striker - who bagged 27 goals for the Lincolnshire League winning reserves - to have been given his chance sooner.
Stones, who has previously played for Horncastle Town and Sleaford Town, moved to the United second string in the summer after manager Glen Maddison told him a good run could see him promoted to the first team.
However, previous managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst took little notice of the side, although Harry Deane made four appearances for the first team before being loaned out to Stamford.
But all that changed when Hurst and Scott moved to Grimsby Town and Lee and Canoville moved into the dug-out.
“I’d never seen him play, but I was reading good things about him in the programme every week. He was definitely worth a look,” said Canoville as, on his first night as manager, he and Lee watched the reserves defeat Hykeham Town.
And within minutes of taking their seats, Stones - right on cue - fired home the only goal of the game. That night the stand-in managers met with the player and promoted him to training with the first team.
And after three matches spent on the bench, Stones was finally given his chance against Vauxhall Motors.
Stones admits to being inspired to get fitter, not only because of what he could achieve with United, but also because he wants to emulate Lee, a boyhood hero.
“I shouldn’t really say this as a Boston United player, but I used to go and watch him (Lee) play for Lincoln City.
“So to have him offering me advice is a really good feeling.”
But that feeling is mutual as Lee has high hopes for Stones, suggesting the rugged forward reminds him of a younger version of the manager.
He said: “Since we watched our first reserve game I saw something I liked.
“He’s a big guy and I can identify with big strikers and what they’re all about.
“He may not look pretty on the eye, but he’s been ignored for most of the season after doing the business for the reserves.”
But, as both player and manager agree, Stones future at United depends very much on his fitness after the summer break.