Adam Henley insists he is gearing up for the biggest season of his career to date.
The 21-year-old is aiming to nail down the right-back role at Rovers for the entire season, which he hopes will secure his place on the plane for next summer’s European Championships in France, should Wales get there.
Since bursting onto the scene at the age of just 17 - making his full debut at Anfield on Boxing Day 2011 - Henley has been unable to truly cement himself as a Rovers regular.
The Welshman made seven league appearances in his breakthrough season, 15 in the 2012-13 campaign, 14 in the 2013-14 season and 18 last term.
He concedes a combination of injuries and loss of form have hampered his progress, but Henley, who produced some impressive performances during the second half of last season, hopes to become a firm fixture in Gary Bowyer’s side during the upcoming campaign.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back in and starting pre-season and hitting the start of the season as strong as I can and as strong as I finished it,” said Adam, who is due back at Brockhall for the first time today.
“It’s a vital season for me. This is a season where I feel personally I need to cement a place for 40 games. I can’t afford to be dipping in and dipping out.
“It’s something I’ve not managed to get on my résumé yet - a full season - whether that be through injury or lack of form, and I really feel that at the start of this season I’ve got to give myself a chance of playing every game.”
And Henley knows that a consistent campaign in Rovers’ colours could lead to further call-ups for his country, who are on the brink of qualifying for their first major tournament finals in 57 years.
“It’s always going to work like that and if you’re not performing for your club, you can’t expect to be called up automatically for your country,” he added.
“It’s good for me to have that opportunity this year. It gives me a goal, it’s something to work towards and it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Despite having a much shorter summer break than most of his team-mates, Henley insists he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The full-back was with the Wales squad for their famous 1-0 win over Belgium last month, which moved Chris Coleman’s side three points clear of their opponents at the top of Group B, and Henley admits that the night in Cardiff is one he will never forget.
“We made a massive step towards our goal, which is European qualification and if we manage to get that next year, then the season will go on a lot longer,” he added.
“So you’ve got to accept that time away and just concentrate on your football, because you’ll always get downtime, so I was happy to concentrate on that and carry on through my season.
“It was unbelievable. All of my friends were saying the atmosphere looked amazing on telly and I don’t think it did it justice to what it was really like there on the night in Cardiff.
“It was something I’ve not experienced before being with the national team and you could really tell there was a lot of positivity and the whole country is really getting round the team and there’s that belief now flowing throughout the whole team and you could really see that in the performances and the way we set out, which is all credit to Chris Coleman.
“You wouldn’t have thought it two or three years ago, coming into the qualification, but Chris Coleman has done wonders with the squad, bringing us together and we have got a lot of quality in the squad.
“Like with any national team, you can have quality, but a lot of the time it doesn’t fit and I think that’s where we have really taken it to the next level. Getting the tactics right for every game, changing the formation and you can really see the results of that.”
Having been called up by Wales on the last two occasions - for a game in Israel in March and the clash with Belgium last month - the uncapped Henley now feels at home amongst the star-studded squad.
“I enjoy it every time I go out there,” he added. “Like I’ve said many times before, the experience is valuable for me, as such a young player. They all chip in and help you with things and that’s what you want really. I just want to continue doing well for the club and getting those call-ups.”
Rovers return to action this Saturday when they take on Accrington Stanley in their first pre-season friendly of the summer.
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