Sunderland AFC's Jack Diamond believes he has already improved during Harrogate Town loan spell
Jack Diamond feels that playing week in, week out for Harrogate Town this season has already improved him as a footballer.
The 21-year-old Sunderland winger re-joined the Sulphurites for a second loan spell at the end of August, just over a year on from helping the club achieve their historic promotion to League Two.
And he has been near-enough ever-present since heading back to Wetherby Road, starting every single one of the 14 matches that he has been available for out on the left flank.
Having delivered a number of eye-catching performances as well as three goals and three assists, Diamond is satisfied with how he is progressing.
“I think I’ve developed since I came back here. That’s the thing that I am trying to do all the time,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.
“Maybe I might see it a bit more than other people because I’m always setting little goals for myself.
“It’s not always big goals, it’s stepping stones, just even the fact that I’ve got more goals now than I did [after 14 games] when I was here before.
“And just because I’m playing consistent football in the Football League, I think that is so important for a player like me, of my age, when you’ve come through the academy system. This is real football, this is the real game.”
Unsurprisingly given how well things have gone for him back in yellow and black, Diamond has no regrets about turning down a host of other interested parties to link back-up with Simon Weaver on Transfer Deadline Day.
“I definitely feel that it was a good decision to come back here,” he added.
“Any decision, it’s not going to be a bad decision if I am playing football, that was the way I looked at it and there are smaller factors as well.
“This club is going in the right direction and the communication with me is always very good, it’s always made clear how they feel about me.
“They [Harrogate] are not just all about their own club, they want me to develop personally as a player as well, so that’s a big thing.
“So yeah, it’s proving a good decision so far, I just hope that I can keep helping Harrogate in the way that I want to.”
As far as his individual contribution in the final third is concerned, Diamond admits that he feels pressure to keep on doing the business.
“I’m happy with the goals and assists so far, these are the things that you are always judged on as an attacker," he continued.
“I think that the way the modern game is going, wingers are expected to contribute as much as strikers now so I think that’s what I’ve got to try and do, that’s how I’ve got to play.
“I can do anything I want in the build-up, but if I’m not getting those goals and assists then it means nothing."
So potent a threat is he with the ball at his feet that Diamond has become a marked man in League Two, with the sight of opponents immediately trying to double-up on him every time he receives possession now the norm.
Still, he scored one, assisted one and was involved in the build-up for Town's other goal as they won 3-1 on the road at Walsall last time out, a game in which the Black Cats youngster was very much his side's stand-out attacking player.
And although they lost the game 4-0, Diamond also served up an eye-catching display during Harrogate's previous outing, driving and slaloming past League One Sheffield Wednesday defenders at Hillsborough as if they weren't there.
“Every game I am just trying to prove something because I’m on loan," he added.
“That Sheffield Wednesday game was one that I looked at and thought ‘if I’m ever going to play at the level I want to play at then I’ve got to be doing well against this opposition."
Next up for Diamond and his Town team-mates is a home clash with Salford City in League Two, 3pm kick-off on Saturday.