He’s had to bide his time, but Joe Ledley says he is hungry to just get stuck into the challenge ahead at Derby County and put a long summer behind him.
The 30-year-old Wales international joined the Rams in a deal until January on Wednesday evening and will be in full training from Thursday ahead of the club’s Sky Bet Championship clash with Birmingham City this weekend.
With everything signed and sealed, it brings down the curtain on a ‘frustrating’ period for the midfielder.
Ledley left Crystal Palace at the end of his contract, following the conclusion of the 2016/17 season, and has been without a club since.
He has, however, been putting in the hard yards on his own to keep himself in good shape and is hoping that will enable him to hit the ground running with the Rams.
More than anything, Derby’s newest addition is looking forward to getting his teeth into the relentless nature of Championship football again.
In his first interview, he told RamsTV: “It has been frustrating with doing most of my training by myself, motivating myself, and trying to stay as fit as possible, but it’s paid off in the end and I’m looking forward to the next few months.
“I’m that sort of guy who likes to stay fit and look after myself. I was lucky enough as well to meet up with Wales and have the opportunity to train with the boys so I think my fitness levels will be ok.
“I’ve had a session today. It was a long, hard, session but I enjoyed it.
“The facilities are fantastic here – one of the best that I’ve seen for a long time and it is clear this club is going forward.
“I spoke to Chris Coleman a lot during the summer and we he recommended me to a few clubs but I thought this one was right for me at this time and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“I’m also looking forward to meeting up with the lads here on Friday and just being here day-to-day to train and play games again.
“I have missed that, but I’ve got that hunger back and I have always been a hungry player.”
On that word ‘hunger’ Ledley says it is clear from conversations with Gary Rowett that the Derby boss shares his same passion for the game – insisting the 43-year-old is exactly the kind of manager he wants to work for.
With all the formalities completed on his move, he is hoping he can make an immediate impact at the club and help the Rams push closer to where they want to be.
He added: “Gary (Rowett) has been fantastic – he sold the club to me straight away. He told me what he wanted from me and I totally agreed with everything he said.
“He’s a young manager, he did well before at Birmingham and he’s come here and is doing a good job.
“He’s hungry and that is the sort of manager that I want to work under.”
Ledley added: “Derby is a big club without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve dealt with expectation for most of my life and I’ve played in big games for most of my life where everyone expects everything so hopefully now I can just work hard and play as well as I can.
“It has been a long time so I’m raring to go.”