Steven Gerrard was my idol says Norwich City midfielder Bradley Johnson

Meeting your footballing idol lived up to expectations for Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson.

The 24-year-old worshipped Steven Gerrard coming through the ranks as a young man before opposing the Liverpool skipper earlier this season at Anfield in City's 1-1 Premier League draw. Johnson admits that trip to Merseyside was extra special as a result, and the combative midfielder would love the chance for a reunion back on home soil.

'I used to watch him on Match of the Day when I was a lad and to be walking out on the same pitch as him is a dream come true for me,' he said. 'Growing up my idol was Steven Gerrard so if he plays, I'll relish the chance to play against him. I played against him at Anfield and he's a great player. It's every lad's dream to play in the Premier League and to play against a player you watched when you were growing up is just another bonus. His all-round game makes him one of the best midfielders ever to play in the Premier League. The things he does on the pitch not many people can do as a midfielder. I look up to him because I'm a midfielder myself.'

But as Joey Barton discovered to his cost at Loftus Road in City's Premier League win at the turn of the year, reputations count for little.

'I'm not going to stand off him and give him respect. It is a privilege for me to be on the same pitch as him but I'm not going to give him time because of who he is,' said Johnson. 'You can't do it any other way. If you give teams like Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United too much respect, they're going to play you off the park because they've got world-class players. It's in my game as well. I don't give anyone any respect or time on the ball. Throughout the team, that's what we do. We work hard for each other and get in the opposition's faces and upset their game.'


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Johnson warns potential FA Cup distractions for the Reds, allied to faltering league results, will not make the task any easier.

'We don't really look at that. They could come here with 10 losses under their belt and still get a performance out,' he said. 'Anything can happen and I hope we'll be upsetting them. They have a great squad and world-class players, so whoever plays it will be a hard game for us.

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'We've just got to get our game right and hope we all perform well. We showed earlier in the season at their place that every point is important - no matter who you're playing. To go away to Anfield and get a point there – not many teams can achieve that. We did it and it kicked us on.'

Johnson had a watching brief for last weekend's lacklustre 2-0 reverse at Blackburn, but the former Leeds midfielder insists a long gruelling campaign has not started to catch up with Paul Lambert's squad.

'We're not tired. It's a hard league. Every game that you go into it's going to be hard,' he said. 'Blackburn were fighting for their lives and down at the bottom and they made it hard for us. They deserved the win although we didn't play as well as we could do. We know every game is going to be hard but we work our socks off and we're just going into this game to do the same. Everyone was disappointed – whenever we lose we are disappointed. We know we didn't play well but we've got a big game to put things right.'

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