CAMERON ARCHER is keen to start making up for lost time after joining Middlesbrough on loan from Aston Villa.

Archer made his first Boro appearance as a second-half substitute during Saturday’s FA Cup thrashing at the hands of Brighton, with his 22-minute outing representing only his eighth senior involvement in the whole of the current campaign.

Last season, the 21-year-old broke into Aston Villa’s senior squad in the first half of the campaign before playing regularly as a loan player with Preston after Christmas.

So far this term, he has found first-team minutes much harder to come by, hence his desperation to hit the ground running and make an immediate impression with Boro.

“It’s hard to get your chance in the Premier League,” said Archer. “I’ve waited a long time to play football. Obviously, it's not really in my control, what’s happened so far this season. I can only just keeping working hard, and I like to think that’s what I’ve done. You just need a chance to show what you can do. I guess when the time’s ready, the time’s ready.

“I don’t think I’ve lost too much of my sharpness, although I guess we’ll find that out when I start properly playing. Last season, I played a lot before I went out on loan. This season has been a bit different, but I think I know how my body works and I’d be pretty confident I’m ready to go.”

Preston’s desire to re-sign Archer underlines how effectively he performed at Deepdale last season, with Boro beating off stiff competition from their Championship rivals in order to reach an agreement with Villa for the youngster.

Archer scored seven goals in 18 starts for Preston last season, a haul he will be keen to match or better if he is handed similar opportunities with Boro in the next four months.

“It gives me confidence to know that I’ve scored goals in the Championship before,” he said. “But it’s all about the future now. The past is gone, although I can learn from it. Now, it’s about trying to kick on again.”

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough loanee Cameron ArcherMiddlesbrough loanee Cameron Archer (Image: Andrew Varley)

Archer has joined a Boro side sitting in fifth position in the Championship table ahead of Saturday’s return to league action with a home game against promotion rivals Millwall, and the England Under-21 international has seen enough from his side’s recent games to be convinced he has joined a team capable of winning promotion.

“I rate Boro’s chances (of making the play-offs) highly,” he said. “I think we’ve got a very good team. I’ve come here for a reason – I like the way we play, and I like the players that are here."