Norwich City midfielder flattered by England talk
If Bradley Johnson ever doubts himself he need look only as far as his left wrist where the word 'Believe' is etched across his skin.
The 24-year-old has certainly done a lot of believing since his summer move from Leeds United, nailing down a place in City boss Paul Lambert's starting XI and recently catching the eye of England boss Fabio Capello.
Johnson has been a revelation since breaking into the side but you get the feeling the person least surprised by it all is actually the man himself.
While he admits it's nice to be spoken about in England terms, he insists it won't take his focus away from his bread and butter with the Canaries.
'It's a great achievement for me to be even watched by the England team but I'm not getting carried away,' he said. 'They have said they are watching me but I've got to keep my performances up for Norwich and see where it takes me from there.'
Johnson is likely to be included in the England squad to face Spain in a friendly next month but the midfielder is treating anything away from the halls of Carrow Road as an added bonus. 'It's in the back of my mind but I can't concentrate on that. I've got to focus on doing my best for Norwich City and see where that takes me. If I get a call-up then that's a bonus for me.'
Johnson's all-action displays were recently highlighted by the fact he has covered more than 12.5km in each game he has played in for City – more than any other player in the top-flight.
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Johnson believes the hard yards he, and the rest of the squad, put in during pre-season are paying off and described himself as being in the form of his life.
'That's my game – I work hard,' he added. 'I'm a box to box player and if I've got to work hard for the team then I'll do it, I won't shy away from it.
'I base my game on hard work and hard work pays off. I've been happy with the way I've been performing - I think it's the best football I've played.
'I'm playing in my natural position which is central midfield and I'm playing with good players around me like Foxy and I've been in there with Crofty as well.'
The mere mention of City's pre-season tour of Germany is enough for many players to puff out their cheeks such was the rigorous nature of it but Johnson believes it is giving the players an edge now.
'It was a hard pre-season and I feel fit and strong – I think that's showing in my performances and the team's.
'I can run all day but it's not all about running, you've got to be able to play as well. I've got good players around me this year and it's paying off in my performances.'
Johnson has certainly not been overawed despite coming up against some of the world's best and believes Lambert has instilled an inner belief that has taken his game to the next level. 'I feel I have done well against the top players this year and long may that continue. I've watched the likes of Frank Lampard when I was a kid so to be stood next to them on the pitch, I'm not thinking 'wow that's Frank Lampard', I'm thinking 'I want to beat you and do the best I can'.
'The gaffer has helped massively – he talks to me and he gives everyone in the team that confidence that in every game we go into we haven't got pressure on us.'