Mansfield Town loan striker Dapo Afolayan impressed with Stags’ set-up after West Ham United switch

DAGENHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Oladapo Afolayan of West Ham tackles with Dylan Duncan of Tottenham during the Premier League 2 match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at Chigwell Construction Stadium on February 12, 2018 in Dagenham, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
DAGENHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Oladapo Afolayan of West Ham tackles with Dylan Duncan of Tottenham during the Premier League 2 match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at Chigwell Construction Stadium on February 12, 2018 in Dagenham, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

New Mansfield Town loan striker Dapo Afolayan enjoyed seeing one familiar face as he joined in his first training session with the Stags.

Afolayan, who signed from Premier League West Ham United on a half-season loan on Thursday, trained with the Stags earlier in the day at The RH Academy.

Among those training with him was midfielder Omari Sterling-James, who was with Afolayan at National League Solihull Moors in 2017.

The striker, who was signed by the Hammers from Solihull last year and has since been on loan at Oldham Athletic, said: “I’ve known Omari for a few years, we played together at my previous club.

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“Knowing he was here, I knew it would be all right for me to come and I’d settle in quite well.

“I feel like it [Solihull] was the best time of my career so far. I want to get back to hitting that form again. I feel that I need to be in an environment like this where I can maximise my potential.

“Coming into men’s football and being a bit of an unknown identity helped me out (at Solihull). I’ve gone away and worked. I feel like I’m a much better player now and it’s prepared me for the future.”

Afolayan said he was match fit and ready to be plunged straight into action for the injury-hit Stags if selected.

“I played three games last week and I’ve been playing week-in, week-out,” he continued.

“I want to hit the ground running and get as many goals as I can and help the club push on.”

Talking of his time at Oldham in League Two, the striker added: “The experience I learned from playing in the games was good and it was good to be in and around League Two. Any game I played in I did quite well.

“It’s a tough league to play in, but I felt that I did quite well, aside from missing out on a few opportunities.”

Afolayan described himself as a quick and direct striker who worked hard for the team and “pressed everything”. “I will run into channels and when I get the ball at my feet I will express myself and hopefully provide goals and assist,” he said.

He added that he usually played better with a strike partner who he could work-off, but he was happy to play the role of a lone forward up top too.

The former England C man, who netted 16 goals in 38 games for Solihull, said the move to One Call Stadium was “an opportunity to get my name out there again” and he wanted to get as many goals as he could and lift the Stags upwards.

He said the move was an opportunity to show the Stags’ supporters “what I am all about.”

The training facilities at The RH Academy impressed the Premier League signing – as did his new teammates.

“There was a lot of high quality on show and all of the boys were working really hard,” he continued.

“It {The RH Academy} is lovely. This is a very good setup and I was very impressed when I drove in.

“They are all good boys and they’ve got to know me quite well. I’m happy to be here.

“Even from the first possession drill we did, the intensity was high and the quality was good. Everyone was on it. It’s just about driving that quality every day.”