Hard work paying off for Ali Al-Hamadi
Ali Al-Hamadi believes his hard work on the training field has been paying off with the strides he has made for Swansea City's Under-23s this season.
The Iraq-born forward, who turned 18 on Sunday, recorded his ninth appearance for the development side this season as he played the opening 76 minutes of Monday’s narrow defeat by West Bromwich Albion in Premier League 2 Division 2 at Landore.
Ironically, Al-Hamadi’s league debut for the under-23s came in the reverse fixture against the Baggies in October.
The second-year scholar has appeared a further five times in the second tier of development football; starting his last three and finding the net against Norwich City in December.
Al-Hamadi, who has also scored five goals in 11 games for the under-18s in all competitions, is thrilled with the progress he has made in just over four months.
And the former Tranmere Rovers youth product feels he has reaped the rewards of the hard work behind the scenes by earning his opportunities to step up.
“It’s crazy how things have changed,” he said.
“If you’d told me back in October that I’d be starting for the under-23s now then I wouldn’t have believed you.
“One of my goals for the season was to become a regular starter for the under-23s.
“I think my hard work has paid off this year, so I must keep doing that and improving.
“I’ve changed massively as a player for the better and, hopefully, I can keep that going now.”
Monday marked Al-Hamadi’s return from a hamstring injury sustained in the under-18s’ FA Youth Cup tie against Manchester City in December.
And the teenager is eager to make up for lost time with the under-23s by making important contributions in the final third.
“It was good to be back out there,” he added.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal to be out for nearly three months.
“I want to be out on the pitch playing and scoring goals. You miss that feeling when you’re injured.
“I’m still getting back into the swing of things. I now need to try to get among the goals and assists again.”