It seems fitting that Adam King is now playing for a club nicknamed The Railwaymen. He is charging forward like a train these days and scoring goals without inhibition. Eight games into his loan at Crewe Alexandra, the Edinburgh-born midfielder has already bulged the net three times.
If he were a train, it would be blasting its horn at every opportunity. King is on loan at Crewe from Swansea City until January 5 and revelling in regular first-team football. At 19, he has experience of dressing rooms at Hearts and Swansea but little knowledge of cutting-edge battles for points each week. Crewe sit bottom of England’s League One and the midfielder is certainly up for the fight.
Goals against Preston North End, Bury and Swindon Town showcase the more attacking nature of a player reared at Riccarton as a sitting midfielder. The Crewe manager Steve Davis has encouraged King to get forward more and the player is thriving on the freedom.
“Three goals is a massive bonus for me,” said King, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “It’s something I’ve been trying to implement in my game recently. The manager and coaches at Crewe have been helping me do that and giving me the opportunity to get forward, which is something I like to do. Hopefully I can get a few more goals.
“The attacking instinct has always been in my game. I’ve always liked getting myself in and around the box and I know I’m capable of getting forward and back. Certain managers play different formations so it depends what position you’re playing. If I get the opportunity to go forward, I’ll be up and down there all day.
“Getting these games under my belt at Crewe is brilliant for me. Playing first-team games is a lot different from under-21s at Swansea. I appreciate the chance Crewe have given me here. It’s a great place to be playing my football. They play a 4-3-3 formation, with one deeper midfielder and two others higher up. I’m usually one of the higher midfielders who do a bit of defending and attacking. The manager encourages those two higher midfielders to get forward and get in the box.
“It’s been a brilliant move for me. At Hearts and Swansea, it’s difficult to break into their first teams. Coming to a club like this and playing regularly, I’m learning a lot. I found it difficult in the first game. It was a local derby against Port Vale. I’ve spoken to the management after every game and they keep looking over my progress. I’m adjusting better every week and I feel I’m improving different aspects of my game. It’s an invaluable experience.”
King is outscoring his older brother at the moment. Hearts winger Billy has notched twice in his eight appearances this season. It wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t pressed for a loan move. Hearts sold him to Swansea for less than £200,000 in January 2014 whilst they were in administration but, with only three senior appearances in Scotland and one in England on his CV, King knew he desperately needed to play games this season.
“Going on loan is something I’ve always been quite interested in doing. I think I had to get out and get some first-team games under my belt,” he continued. “I know 19 is still young but it’s getting on a bit now and I need matches. That was Swansea’s thinking as well. The manager, Garry Monk, encouraged me to go. He said they were waiting for the right club for me. Crewe play the right formation, it’s similar to Swansea, they play good football, so it’s a win-win situation for me.
“Crewe set me up in flat here right away and they’ve been excellent with me. Everything has been sorted out for me. It’s similar to Swansea in the sense it’s like a little family club. Stephen Kingsley [Swansea’s ex-Falkirk defender] is here on loan as well now, so it’s good to have a friend from Swansea. I’d been in a first-team environment before but this is about getting out there, getting games under my belt and getting experience. I hope to come back to Swansea stronger.”
League One in England isn’t for the faint-hearted, though. “Pre-season with Crewe was one of the toughest I’ve had, with all the running and gym work. That wasn’t a shock to me and I enjoy the more physical side to the game. I found the first couple of games quite difficult. I was trying to just adapt to the pace because I hadn’t really played many first-team games, especially in League One. I feel I’ve adapted to it now and I’m up with the pace of it.”
There is no doubt he made the correct decision heading to Gresty Road. Swansea’s midfield is currently occupied by internationalists Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jonjo Shelvey. The likes of Ki Sung Yueng and Jefferson Montero are on the bench, so chances for promising teenagers are limited. King is still made to feel wanted by regular contact from coaches at Swansea’s Landore training ground. His long-term aim is, naturally, to challenge the established star names for a first-team place.
“The manager told us before that anyone is capable of playing in the Swansea first team. Everyone just has to fight for their place,” he explained. “It’s not like players are set in their positions in the first team, you just have to battle for a place. If I can go back and do that then we will see what happens.
“Swansea had a brilliant year last season and, with what they’re doing so far this season, it looks like being another great year. That makes it pretty difficult, but I’ll go back and give it my best shot. It’s such a positive environment there. The players you’re working with and learning from are world-class. The coaching, training and game preparation is all so detailed. It’s a great place to learn.
“They have certain coaches who specifically keep in touch with the loan players. I speak to them every week. They check up on how you’re doing, how the game went, how you’re finding training and if you’re enjoying it. That definitely helps.”
The only slight down point for King is that he was overlooked for Scotland Under-21 duty earlier this month. Coach Ricky Sbragia remains an admirer, though, and a recall is certain if his form in Cheshire continues.
“I was a bit disappointed not to be involved against Northern Ireland, but that’s football I suppose. I was disappointed, but not overly disappointed because I’m playing regular games here. I’ve played every match so far and I’m gaining a bit of momentum. I love going away with Scotland. It’s your country and it’s every boy’s dream to go away with your country. Playing first-team games at Crewe is my priority, but I’d be delighted if I got a Scotland Under-21 call-up as well.”
King is content knowing his club career is firmly on track. For the next few months it is full steam ahead with The Railwaymen.