IAN Sharps put in a man-of-the-match performance on his debut for Burton Albion — and is keen to discuss a permanent move to the Pirelli Stadium at the end of the season.
The 32-year-old was outstanding as the Brewers battled hard to a 1-0 win over Barnet to keep them right in the League Two play-off frame.
Sharps has joined Albion on loan from Rotherham United until the end of the season in a real coup for manager Gary Rowett.
“It’s a nice compliment to (be seen as a coup),” said the battle-harderned Scouser.
“Burton’s a good club and it’s well-run — it’s a privilege to be here.
“Firstly, I’ve got to impress the manager for him to want me long-term.
“If that happens, then I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk.”
Sharps has arrived at the Pirelli after a chance meeting between a pal and Albion boss Rowett.
When he fell out of favour at Rotherham and was told he could go out on loan, Sharps immediately rang Rowett and a deal was rapidly done.
“I actually found out Gary was interested in me from a mate who met him on holiday a few years ago,” said the centre-half.
“That’s when I found out he fancied me as a player.
“When the chance came to go out on loan my first thought was to give Burton a ring and see if they needed a centre-half.
“I played the first 26 games for Rotherham this season — played every minute — and then got suspended and couldn’t get back in the side.
“When I got back in the side it was against Barnet and we got beaten 2-0. So, I was seen as the reason we lost.
“That’s in the past now and you’re only as good as your last game as they say and thankfully we won this one.”
Burton scored early from the spot through Jacques Maghoma and Sharps was pleased with the win on his debut, even if the Brewers had to work hard to seal the victory.
“Before the game we’d have taken that,” he said. “We probably made hard work of it but it’s just good to get a win.
“They’re a decent footballing side and kept the ball well.
“We struggled to get out and maybe needed to play better football when we had it.
“There’s a lot of ability in this side and we didn’t show it.
“But we showed that we can dig in and grind out a result if we need to.
“They were quick, which is a bit of a worry sometimes.
“It’s just good to get back to winning ways.
“I think we weren’t at our best today but I’ve seen in training this week how good the lads can be.
“You need to stay positive, believe in ourselves and see how it goes.
“All you can do is win your matches.
“Other teams can slip up - it’s up to us to keep going and see how far we can go.”
Sharps won promotion with Shrewsbury Town last season before his summer move to Rotherham.
He hopes some of his experience can rub off on the Albion squad as they look to cement a top-seven place come the end of the season.
“I was fortunate to get promoted with Shrewsbury last year and that was basically winning every home game, so it is possible,” he said.
“But we must try to get the odd points away from home and the odd three points.
“We’ve got two tricky away games now and we’ve shown today we’re more than capable of going somewhere and digging in.
“I’ve got a bit of experience to help the younger lads out.
“Hopefully, I’m just good enough to play games of football for Burton.
“That was the idea when I went to Rotherham — to get back-to-back promotions.
“I’ll have to pass that onto Burton now and see what we can do.”
Sharps, who made his name with Tranmere Rovers, has instantly been made welcome in the Albion dressing room.
He knows most of the squad from previous meetings with the Brewers.
“It’s a lively changing room,” he said. “The lads are a good bunch and there are a lot of laughs going on.
“When it came down to business I think we showed we can dig in and fight.
“I was with Calvin (Zola) at Tranmere years ago
“He’s obviously a really lively lad — all the lads have been very welcoming.
“I’ve played against them for the last four years, so you get to know them on the pitch, more as enemies when you’re playing against them.
“The lads are a good bunch.”
Sharps netted when Shrewbury beat Burton last season and he almost scored with a second-half header on Saturday — and is glad it did not prove decisive in the end.
“I remember that goal,” he said. “I only scored two goals last year and one was against Rotherham and one against Burton.
“It’s funny how it turns out. I should’ve scored today with the same kind of header — thank god we didn’t concede.”