IAN Sharps is hopeful of turning his loan spell at Burton Albion into a permanent move at the end of the season – but is concentrating on the here and now before any talks take place.
The 32-year-old centre-half has proved an inspired signing by Gary Rowett in the January transfer window.
Eyebrows were raised when Sharps was allowed to leave League Two promotion rivals Rotherham United to come to the Pirelli Stadium and he has added a touch of steel and experience to the back four.
“I’m loving it at the club,” said the 6ft 3in Warrington-born defender. “They’re a great bunch of lads and training’s good, with good standards.
“The lads have good standards on the pitch as well.
“It’s fun to be around.”
Any move to the Pirelli in the summer will be dependent on Sharps maintaining his good form and a deal being struck – but the player would like to join Rowett’s ever-evolving squad.
“Obviously, I’ve got to keep myself in the side and hopefully the gaffer will be interested in the summer,” said the former Tranmere Rovers man.
“That’s a long way away yet.
“I’d be interested in coming but it’s not in my hands at the moment.”
Sharps won promotion with Shrewsbury Town last season and is widely considered one of the best defenders in League Two.
And he sees a growing belief in the Albion dressing room that the club can finish the job they have started.
“I think our form sends a big message to our changing room as well (as other clubs) that we’re capable of doing good things this year,” he said.
“It’s a long way to go. We’re still not favourites because we’ve played more games than everyone else, but hopefully we can just sneak in there.
“It’s probably a bit different last year because Shrewsbury were expected to go up at the beginning of the season, whereas Burton maybe didn’t have the high expectations at the start of the season we’ve got now.
“I think belief is starting to build in the players and the club and the fans that we’ve got a chance of doing something this year.
“Long may it continue.”
Sharps’ arrival – and those of striker Michael Symes and winger Alex MacDonald – have given the Brewers squad an injection of fresh blood at just the right time in their push for promotion.
Albion are seven unbeaten and have won their last four games to climb upto and hold onto third spot in the table.
Sharps reckons the strength in Burton’s squad is shining through during the run, with competition fierce for places at centre-half.
“Marcus (Holness), Stanno (Nathan Stanton), Zander (Diamond) and myself are all good players,” he said.
“I think it’s just who’s in form is going to play.
“Marcus has come in the last few games and has been excellent – he must’ve been up for man of the match against Exeter.
“It’s good to have a good squad.
“We’re working hard and if you do that the talent and ability you’ve got will shine through at the end of the day.
“The goals we scored (in recent games) were all good, clinical goals. That’s what we’re capable of.”
Holness netted his first for the club in the 4-2 win over Exeter City and Sharps revealed that Rowett and his coaching staff have been drilling set pieces on the training ground of late.
“We’ve been working on set pieces for a bit, being as though we’re not doing well enough on them,” said the Liverpool fan.
“We got a good goal working a short corner and it was great for Marcus to get a goal.”
In the last two games, Albion have shelled two late goals after charging into decisive leads – 4-0 against Exeter and 3-0 against Morecambe.
Sharps was disappointed to let in late goals in both games to make uncomfortable finishes.
“We didn’t want to – we wanted to keep a clean sheet,” he said. “That was the aim before the game as a back four, which we didn’t do.
“We had a lot of the ball and they only got chances towards the end of the game.
“For the first 70 minutes we were pleased but we might have to look at the last 20 minutes.”