Jason Prior may have just climbed four steps of the football pyramid with one long stride, but AFC Wimbledon’s newest recruit is more than confident he can cut it at the higher level.
After lighting up Ryman Division One South with his goalscoring exploits at Bognor Regis Town for the past two seasons, the 23-year-old striker made the switch to Kingsmeadow last week for a fee believed to be £16,000.
He made his debut in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Aldershot Town as a second-half substitute and, after experiencing Football League life for the first time, believes he can make an impact in the professional game.
“I definitely think I can make the step up,” said Prior, who has quit his part-time job as an industrial roofer in Portsmouth.
“I think full-time training will do me the world of good.
“It was quick when I went on on Saturday but I didn’t find it too bad and, once I acclimatise, hopefully I will start doing well and getting goals.
“I try and stay as central as I can and get on the end of crosses coming into the box but I have to work on my pace a bit as I am not the quickest.”
Before joining Wimbledon, Prior had been on the verge of a move to Blue Square South Eastleigh but his goal record caught the eye of Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew, who took him on trial.
“I did two days with the first team in Newcastle, which was brilliant,” added Prior.
“It was a mad experience though training with the players you usually watch on telly.
“Training with the reserves was not too different to Bognor but the first team was on another planet.
“It was a strange experience but it led to me being at AFC Wimbledon, which is a positive thing.
“Terry Brown has watched me a few times at Bognor and came to see me in Newcastle’s reserves so he was keen.
“And when Newcastle finished he got on the phone and was the one showing the most interest, which is important to me.”
And Brown, who saw Sammy Moore score for the second game running on Saturday and then watched as Corinthian Casuals dumped his side out of the Surrey Senior Cup third round 2-1 on Tuesday, was delighted with Prior’s signature.
“I will have no hesitation putting him straight in at Cheltenham this Saturday,” he said.
“He has good technique, can use both feet, can strike the ball, is good in the air and his hold up play is good.
“He has not got the same sort of pace as Christian Jolley but Newcastle would have signed him if he had.”