No divided loyalties for Norwich City’s Pilkington
Anthony Pilkington's presence today in the home ranks ensures one pocket of Lancashire will change allegiance to the Canaries.
The 23-year-old was born in Darwen, just outside Blackburn, but admitted yesterday his nearest and dearest want only one outcome at Carrow Road.
'I've got loads of mates and all my family who are Blackburn fans as well, so they are coming up, but they're supporting me,' he said. 'They all support me. Especially my close family. If Blackburn is playing and I'm playing, they'll always come and watch me. I used to go and watch Blackburn as a lad, but I haven't been so much recently and it's a shame what's happening down there after the seasons they have had in the past.
'Hopefully they can get themselves back out of it, but not too soon. If I score, I'll be celebrating more than any fan in the world.'
Pilkington knows more than most Rovers arrive in Norfolk desperate for all three Premier League points after only one league victory in their opening nine games.
'I think their manager has said they need a win. Everyone needs a win – but them more than anyone, because they are bottom of the league and struggling,' he said. 'So it is going to be the biggest game of the season so far and it's one where we obviously want to get three points because we want to keep our good home form going and keep playing well.
'It'll maybe be just like the game with Swansea, people expected us to win but it's not that easy just turning up and winning. This is the Premier League and it's the toughest league in the world - but teams like Blackburn and Swansea, these are the teams that are maybe going to be around us come the end of the season and teams where we need to pick up three points against, especially at home.'
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Pilkington's rise from an injury-hit campaign at Huddersfield in League One last year to earning plaudits from one of his old Rovers' idols Alan Shearer after his Swans' brace underline City's own meteoric progress.
'It is a bit surreal but its all part of working hard and getting into the best league in the world,' he said. 'In the days when I had my season ticket I used to go and watch the likes of Shearer and (Chris) Sutton – growing up Shearer was my hero. I'm just enjoying my football. All the lads have been brilliant. I had my injury last season and I missed loads of games, and I sat back and thought it could have been my last game, so I'm not going to go into a game holding anything back because you never know – it could be your last game.'
Pilkington insists Norwich's deserve the plaudits after serving fresh notice against Liverpool last weekend they plan on an extended top flight stay.
'Anfield was a great stadium to play at, but you've just got to remember it's a game of football at the end of the day and you're playing against people the same as you,' he said. 'You deserve to be there and you deserve to be playing against those players. It's all about having the confidence to go and be yourself.
'That's why we are there, because we have worked hard and we deserve it. We maybe have been a bit unlucky and we could have nicked a few more points here and there, but that's in the past now. We've just got to concentrate on this game.'