Anthony Pilkington living Premier League dream with Norwich City
Anthony Pilkington embodies Norwich City's fearless approach to Premier League combat.
The 23-year-old – who bypassed the Championship after being plucked from League One in the summer – looks like he has been a top class operator all his young career.
Pilkington outshone Chelsea and England left back Ashley Cole recently at Carrow Road on the right flank before switching to the opposite wing to play his part in last weekend's FA Cup success at West Brom. The former Huddersfield flyer is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure he can add to his five goals in 19 appearances over what promises to be an exciting run in.
'I'm just enjoying it. I've always dreamt of playing at this level and I've worked hard to get my chance, so I'm not going to give it up easily,' he said. 'I think it's been a really good season so far but we can't rest on our laurels and I hope we can carry it on, see it through to the end of the season. I enjoy both sides, or even playing in the middle – it doesn't really bother me as long as I'm playing. You can't complain if you're on the pitch, whether you're playing centre-half, in the net, on the wing or up front. It's when you're not on the pitch, that's when you want to start worrying. But I enjoy playing football and I'll play anywhere the manager asks me to play.'
Pilkington admits competing against the likes of Cole does wonders for the self-belief.
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'I've got a lot of confidence at the moment,' he said. 'The gaffer instils that into us as well. He gets the best out of everyone and it doesn't matter who you're up against. At the end of the day, they're a human being as well and you've always got to try to get the better of your opponent. More times that not you'd like to think you're going to do that, so it was a great game and a good performance, but I've forgotten about that now. It's on to the next one.'
Pilkington has featured in all of Norwich's last three away wins. Prolonging that run against a Martin O'Neill-inspired Sunderland is a tough proposition.
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'It will be like playing a different club, I suppose. Martin O'Neill is a great manager and he's done great things since he's been there,' he said. 'We've got to look forward to the game and do the things we did last time and we should be fine. I don't think it's just the away games, it's every game I think we relish so much. We're fresh into the league. We've got something to prove to ourselves that we can do it at this level. Everyone is just hungry. You've seen the team spirit we've got in there and whether we're at home or away, we always try to come off with the three points.'
Pilkington revealed City's unbeaten spell in league and cup action during the month of January had almost passed the players by.
'I was actually saying to Wes (Hoolahan) on Monday when we were on the way to the swimming baths that none of the lads really knew (about the January run) and it's not something we look at, but it's great to have and shows what a great squad we have here,' he said.
City's latest midfield recruit Jonny Howson has made the same trek south as Pilkington, but the Darwen-bred talent expects the ex-Leeds man to acclimatise quickly.
'We've not seen much of him. He's working hard in the treatment room, trying to get fit for the remainder of the season,' he said. 'I'm sure he's fitting in well. I think he's all settled in with a house down here with his family, so it's a great signing for us. It's been easy coming down to the city, it's a great place to live and I get along with all the boys really well.'