By Joel Lampkin
James Wallace feels that playing for Tranmere Rovers is the next best thing for local lads as he edges towards a full recovery for the National League side.
The former Rovers captain is featuring for his second club on Merseyside after being signed as a stand out 13-year-old by boyhood club Everton, before being released in 2012, however his disappointment has only served as motivation.
Wallace has been up and down the football divisions with Sheffield United and Shrewsbury Town in recent years but his second permanent spell on Birkenhead has saw him embark upon his biggest challenge yet.
The midfielder was an important character in Tranmere’s promotion charge last season but his injury in the semi-final against Aldershot town in April 2017 saw him ruled out until 2018 as Micky Mellon and co. missed out on a win at Wembley.
Wallace has been plagued by injury throughout his career and a knee issue has halted the 26-year-old’s campaign this term but he is now ready to stand up and be counted and lead his team into the Football League.
He said: “When this club is in the league it is a great catch for someone like myself who come from Everton. It is the next best thing for a local lad, I don’t understand why more kids do not do it from a young age.
“Playing for the under 23’s is alright but when you get to a certain pedigree you need to go and play man’s football. As a local lad it is the next best thing – playing football, you are in The Echo [and] people recognise you, it is great.”
Wallace has been unavailable for nearly 10-months but the no.38 feels that his mental toughness has kept him focussed in football – despite being tempted to walk away.
The former England u/20 international youth player has been immersed in football from a young age starting in Clubmoor for his local amateur team, and he is prepared to be a key figure in the final few months of Tranmere’s campaign.
He said: “It has been drilled into me, I started playing when I was four, Sunday league team with the Farmers arms, it has been instilled in me from an early age, this is all I have ever knew.
“It is hard to have it taken away from you with so many injuries, it is heart-breaking, it is disheartening. but I am a mentally strong person and I have continued where I could have walked away.
“I have felt like walking away, but I haven’t because I know I still have a lot to offer and I will do, I will get there in the end.”
One of the big factors in Wallace’s life is his young son Blake whose obsession with football is one of the main reasons he cannot wait to step back onto the pitch and do everything he can to earn promotion this season.
“He is Tranmere mad, it is doing my head in I will have to get him to support someone who wins trophies” he joked “Hopefully we will go up and win a trophy for him this season.
“Tranmere winning the trophy that will make his day.”