Bates wants slice of the action

PUBLISHED: 10:15 05 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

Matthew Bates is impatient for his first start in Norwich City colours - and is happy to take his chance at full-back or centre-half.

The Middlesbrough defender, signed on loan until April 28, was given his first outing for the Canaries when he played most of the second half of Saturday's 1-0 Championship win at home to Preston.

Matthew Bates is impatient for his first start in Norwich City colours - and is happy to take his chance at full-back or centre-half.

The Middlesbrough defender, signed on loan until April 28, was given his first outing for the Canaries when he played most of the second half of Saturday's 1-0 Championship win at home to Preston.

And Bates, who took over at right-back from Jon Otsemobor nine minutes after half-time, will be eager to keep his place in Saturday's noon kick-off against Cardiff City at Ninian Park.

“I was disappointed not to start,” he admitted. “I think Jon got a little bit of a knock and I came on and just wanted to play well and help the team win, and that's what we did.”

Bates said he was “ecstatic” about Darel Russell's late winner.

“It was a great finish. I think we had a couple of chances leading up to that, and I think we were unlucky not to score so I think justice was done with the goal.

“Preston didn't really get in much during the game and, looking back, I think we deserved the three points.”

After more than a year out of action with cruciate and medial ligament damage, Bates made his comeback last month in reserve matches for Boro' against Wigan and Newcastle, but his appearance against Preston was his first at senior level since he suffered the injury playing for Ipswich against Barnsley in November 2006.

He said: “As the saying goes, I wanted to get a few cobwebs off. It's been a couple of weeks since the last game and to get that half an hour, maybe I can kick on from here.

“I just thought I'd try to push on as much as I can and defend well and see if I can contribute and luckily at the end we got the goal.

“I'm a centre-half, really, but I can play right-back and right-back's a totally different thing to centre-half. It's a lot harder work, getting up and down. It will take a couple more games and I think I'll be much sharper.

“I prefer centre-half because I feel the best asset of my game is my defending. When I play right-back I like to get forward as well, but I definitely feel centre-half is my best position.”

With Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell currently forming a solid central defensive partnership, however, helping City keep clean sheets in the last three games, manager Glenn Roeder may be more inclined to give Bates a run at right-back, where Otsemobor has been playing with an Achilles problem.

Roeder, who said his current first choices were under “an awful lot of pressure” from the new loan arrivals, was clearly impressed with Bates' debut.

“I think he looked the player that's come from a Premiership club,” said Roeder. “He looked classy, and he looked very, very mean up in the corner there when he took the ball and the player. I wouldn't think many wingers will enjoy playing against him while he's here.

“Jon's got a sore Achilles, but I wanted to get Batesy into the action as soon as possible.

“As I said to the two boys who never even made the bench, Alex Pearce and Kieran Gibbs, they are here to play now.”

At 21, Bates, a former England Under-20 colleague of City winger Lee Croft, is almost an old hand compared to the five teenagers City have on loan.

“I don't feel it, actually, because I haven't played for a while. I like to think that I'm still young,” he said.

“I'm very impressed with the team spirit. We've got a lot of young lads now and I think playing with young lads, it goes without saying the young lads as a team play better together. They want it more and they're working hard all the time and the one thing you get from a young team is 110 per cent.

“I know a couple of the loanees that have come in, they're all similar age to me, so you kind of play against them in different stages of your career and it's good to join up again.”

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