Steven Whittaker is still striving to make his mark at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Swansea City's Premier League visit evokes one of the better days in Steven Whittaker's Canaries' career.
The Scottish international scored his first top flight goal with a slaloming run and angled finish in last season's 4-3 win at the Liberty Stadium, but that euphoric high has proved largely elusive during a challenging move south from Rangers. Injuries and Russell Martin's form have combined to limit Whittaker's opportunities in his preferred right-back slot but the 29-year-old intends to make the most of his latest chance after a recall for the battling Premier League win at West Brom.
'I've been on the outside of it so it was good to come back in,' he said. 'The manager pulled me aside and said I was going to play at West Brom and once I heard that I was keen to impress and we got the result as well. Obviously when players don't play they get frustrated. That is only natural. We all want to play and I am no different. I am here to take any opportunity when it comes along and I felt like I did that at West Brom.
'Hopefully I can get a run in the team now. I feel I am a good professional and I will always try my best. When I first joined the club I got injured, then I got into the side and we went on a good run of form. Then I got injured again and I found it difficult to get a chance to get back in until I got a few games towards the tail end of last season. I felt like I did okay and this year I have been fit every game.
'I started the season, scored a couple of goals and then was out of the team once again so I just had to keep my head down, work hard and wait. It is part of football. It is what comes with it. You have to keep yourself in the best shape and be ready.'
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Whittaker accepts his versatility may count against him in his efforts to become a permanent fixture in Chris Hughton's starting plans.
'Sometimes it works for you, sometimes not but I am happy to get a game,' he said. 'When you are out of the team and you are asked to play in any position you will jump at that chance. It is definitely better for me to get a run in the team in the one position because you can get more consistency into your game.
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'I have always made my name as a right-back, that is where I have played the majority of my football but I have been switched around; I've played both sides in midfield and left back as well.'
Whittaker carved out a reputation as an adventurous defender with an eye for goal during a dominant spell at Ibrox but the former Hibs trainee has had to curb his natural instincts in his Premier League outings.
'Obviously at Rangers we used to do a lot more attacking and you were encouraged to try and make those third man runs and get on the end of things and you were not doing too much defending,' he said. 'The competition here is a lot harder but it is something I enjoy doing, trying to create and get myself in good positions. It was a major challenge for me to come from Scotland but it was something I really wanted to try. You look at the Premier League and this season especially it is definitely hard to predict results, but I think if you look at the fixtures over the next few weeks there are games we will look to win.'
Whittaker places little emphasis on Swansea's disrupted build-up ahead of tomorrow's Carrow Road test after Michael Laudrup's squad endured a weather-hit Europa League excursion to Switzerland in midweek.
'It looks like they have had a tough schedule, harder than ours, but I am sure they will do the right things in terms of recovery and preparation,' he said. 'We need to concentrate on our game. We feel we have prepared well. We've had a good week's training and it's always nice to come in and enjoy that buzz after a good win.
'We are looking forward to Swansea. We were disappointed with the performance at Liverpool and to concede as many goals as we did, but the reaction (at West Brom) was the right one. I can't put my finger on one thing and say that is what we did differently. We certainly worked harder than we had done in any previous game. The manager showed us the statistics and we covered a lot of ground so that tells you the determination was there.'