Norwich City’s Steven Whittaker out to work his magic
Defender Steven Whittaker is bidding to maintain his status as Norwich City's lucky charm when they face Sunderland in tomorrow's only Premier League fixture.
Whittaker is expected to keep his place at right-back in the televised game at Carrow Road (4pm) – and has yet to appear on the losing side for the Canaries.
Sidelined by an ankle injury for three months at the start of the campaign, the Scotland international made his debut in the 2-1 Capital One Cup victory over Tottenham on Halloween.
The old magic continued throughout the November league programme as he helped Chris Hughton's side to two wins and three draws.
'We're unbeaten in eight. We beat Arsenal and drew with Villa before I came into the side so we've managed to keep that unbeaten record going and I hope that can continue,' he said, delighted by the turnaround in City's season but not claiming the credit for it.
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'Maybe it took us a little bit of time with a new manager and new players gelling together, but we all seem to be on the same page and working hard, extremely hard as a unit and maybe that's why we're getting the success.
'Sunderland are going to be tough opposition, as everyone is in this league, but it's a game I hope we can impose ourselves on and take some points away from the match.
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'It's important when we get home games we impose ourselves on the fixture and I'm sure that's what we'll do.
'We have drawn a lot of games away from home and ideally we'd like to turn a few of them into wins, but we're on this unbeaten run and mentally that's good. It's a never say die attitude, we're still picking up points in every game, which is a bonus. But home games we look upon for getting more points.'
City have also prospered in front of the live TV cameras this season with two wins and two draws, including notable victories over Arsenal and Manchester United.
Goalkeeper Mark Bunn will be thrust into the TV spotlight in his first Premier League appearance for City on home territory, with John Ruddy out for three months with a severely torn thigh muscle, but Whittaker is sure he will rise to the occasion.
'When I made my debut against Tottenham, I played with Mark and he had a fantastic game. So the players have great faith in him and I'm sure he'll just slot in there pretty easily,' he said. 'He did a great job at Southampton. He commands his box well and he's a confident boy. I'm pretty confident he'll do well.'
Whittaker is well acquainted, however, with the man who could pose the biggest threat for Sunderland – �12m striker Steven Fletcher, a former clubmate at Hibernian and a Scotland team-mate.
Said Whittaker: 'I played with him for Scotland before he fell out with the manager. I was delighted to see him back in a Scotland jersey recently. I think we've missed him and he's shown what a capable player he is in his years in the Premier League. We will need to be wary of him tomorrow.
'He's got great talent, he is really good in the air and has headed a lot of his goals over the past few seasons so we'll need to be aware of crosses into the box and make sure we pick him up.
'I was in the same team as Steven at Hibs. The year I left I played the majority of the season with him because we won the CIS Cup and he scored a couple in the final.'
Hibs beat Kilmarnock 5-1 at Hampden Park in 2007 and Whittaker recalled: 'We both played in that match so it was nice memories for me and Steven as well.'