LINING up against several household names – including good friend Raheem Sterling – has seriously whetted the Premier League appetite of Chuba Akpom.
The Hull City striker, on a season-long loan from Arsenal, may be just part-way through his education in Championship life but he is acutely aware of the bigger picture.
In the short and medium term, it revolves around helping the Tigers regain their top-flight place at the first time of asking.
But the 20-year-old also has his sights set on becoming a Premier League regular on the horizon and he says that experiences like Tuesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final tie at Manchester City can only aid in his development.
Hull may have been humbled 4-1 but Akpom garnered invaluable lessons and left the ground clutching the shirt of Sterling – and he is now aiming to follow in the footsteps of his fellow Londoner by cracking it in the big time.
Akpom said: “I know Raheem. Where he grew up is where I live now in north-west London and in the summer, we always meet up and play a bit of five-a-side on a Wednesday and catch up. It’s nice to see him doing well in the Premiership and stuff.
“We are good friends and it was good to play against him as he’s a quality player.
“I want to be playing with world-class players like that – players like (David) Silva and (Kevin) De Bruyne are all top players.
“When I play against those type of players, I think to myself: ‘That’s the level that I want to get to.’
“I just want more of that, playing against the best. I was playing against a defender who was worth £32m. That’s what I want every week and want to test myself to get better.
“You can only learn from these type of games. We wanted to win but I have learned so much in terms of how they worked and the work-rate they put in and the quality they all have.”
The bread-and-butter of league matters is back on the menu for Hull this weekend, although there is added piquancy by way of a Yorkshire derby at Leeds United.
It may be Akpom’s first experience of the rivalry, but he has already heard enough about it to know that it is a game ranks highly in terms of seasonal importance for Tigers fans and players.
He added: “A couple of lads have been talking about the Leeds game and everyone is ready.
“Apparently, it’s a big, big game and the lads have been filling me in about how big it is.
“I have heard that every game that the two sides play gets more competitive. I like playing in these type of games and most importantly, we need to get three points for the fans as much as us.”