NEWPORT County AFC academy star Dominic Jefferies hopes his experiences with the first team this season will be enough to earn him a first professional contract with the club this summer.

Jefferies, who turns 18 in May, has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the Exiles after making five appearances in the Leasing.com Trophy and one in the FA Cup.

The talented teenager, who plays in midfield for the under-18s, impressed as a makeshift right-back as he helped County make it to the semi-final of the Trophy.

And he enjoyed a high-profile FA Cup debut in a televised tie at Maldon & Tiptree in the first round last November.

Jefferies, who joined County at the age of 14 and was granted a scholarship at 16, has also made the bench for several League Two matches.

And, while he knows he still has much to learn, he’s hopeful that he will be rewarded with a professional contract at the end of this season – whenever that may be.

“There’s a lot of stuff I can learn,” said Jefferies.

“There are always things you can learn as a player to improve yourself, not just on the pitch but also off the pitch.

“I’m still young, although I have matured, and I still feel like I need to mature more in the game.

“I can learn from the pros around me, who have obviously made it, then take what I’ve learned from them into my game when I play.

“I want to enjoy the game when I play, express myself when I’m on the pitch and show what I am about.

“And hopefully I get the result, which is the contract.”

Campaign Series:

The transition from academy football to being around Michael Flynn’s first team has been a learning process for Jefferies.

“It’s been a massive change in the mind-set of playing,” he explained.

“It’s a lot more physical than academy football, there’s different standards, players are a lot more clever and that’s the sort of things I learn day to day from players around me, I can take those tips and bring it into my own game.

“I have also learned off-the-pitch skills as well as on-the-pitch skills.

“Off-the-pitch skills such as the attitude towards training and working hard every day to try and get better.”

The biggest test was the FA Cup win at Maldon & Tiptree, which was shown live on BBC Two.

“It was very nerve-wracking game for me,” said Jefferies.

“It was a big stage and a big step up for me, going from youth team football to playing a game in the first team.

“It was weird, I had goosebumps but I was also very excited to show what I am about.

“It was good to get my name out their playing in the FA Cup at the age of 17.

“I thought I could have played better in the game, by just playing my own game. I felt I was quite restricted, I was nervous to play my own game and my own style, because the cameras were on me and plenty of people were watching.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that before. But I did get through it and played 90 minutes.”

Jefferies was speaking to sports journalism student Harrison Kidd. Read the full interview online at https://sport31.home.blog/2020/03/12/from-academy-prospect-to-fa-cup-debut/

Read more: Season must be completed when its safe to do so, says Newport County striker Padraig Amond