With the successes of the likes of Jadon Sancho this season, English footballers are increasingly plying their trade abroad and now one Salford-born sporting star has joined the ranks of those playing overseas.
Derby County striker Nick Blackman, who was born and raised in Salford, joined Spanish second division side Sporting Gijon on loan this season and has recently spoke about his experiences out in northern Spain.
Blackman told his YouTube channel: “The fans have been great. They’ve been fantastic.
“I was out injured for about three weeks when I came here, with an injury I had from pre-season. I am hoping to build on that now and really start hitting my stride and hitting some form.
“I’m hoping for a successful season. To get a good amount of games, score goals, enjoy my football and hopefully get this team back into the Primera Division [La Liga] where it belongs.”
Sporting Gijon currently sit in 11th place in the Segunda Division after 16 games. However, due to his early injury problems, Blackman has managed just five substitute appearances in the league so far for the Rojiblancos.
The 29-year-old powerful forward has struggled to get regular playing time at Derby since his £3m move to Pride Park in January 2016, having spent last season on loan in Israel playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Blackman managed 10 goals in 31 league appearances for Maccabi, as the Israeli side finished second in the league and secured Europa League qualification.
The recent loan stints have allowed Blackman to sample different footballing cultures and has made the striker no stranger to adapting to new surroundings.
Speaking about his recent move to Spain, Blackman said: “It’s cool. It’s a different culture and something new to adapt to again, but it’s something I’m embracing and I’m really enjoying it at the moment.
“I’m having Spanish lessons with a few of the other boys, so it’s coming along quite quickly.
“I had a few last season when I was in Israel, so it gave me a bit of a base, but now I’ve got something to build on and it’s going quite well.”
Blackman did get his first start in the Rojiblancos colours when they drew 2-2 away against Eibar in the second leg of their Copa del Rey clash, winning 4-2 overall on aggregate.
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) December 6, 2018
Having seemed to have put his early injury problems behind him and starting to get the game time needed to rebuild his fitness, the on-loan Derby forward will be hoping he can lock down a regular starting place in the Spanish side.