Bridges over troubled waters
Chris Lakey Michael Bridges says his injury problems are in the past and he is ready to a job for Norwich City next season.The 30-year-old is on 'two-way' trial with City on their three-game tour of Scotland, and while he has other contract offers on the table, he is ready to turn them down for a move to Carrow Road.
Michael Bridges says his injury problems are in the past and he is ready to a job for Norwich City next season.
The 30-year-old is on “two-way” trial with City on their three-game tour of Scotland, and while he has other contract offers on the table, he is ready to turn them down for a move to Carrow Road.
“I still have something to offer and it would be nice to earn something here,” said Bridges. “I haven't just come here for a jolly up to try and beg and plead for a contract. I want to come and earn it and give something different to the team.”
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Bridges made his name with David O'Leary's young Leeds team, justifying his �5m transfer fee from Sunderland with 21 goals in the 1999-2000 season.
But a series of injuries effectively kept him out of the game for three years and triggered a succession of moves, with his last port of call Hull City who, having allowed him out on loan at Sydney FC and Carlisle, released him this summer.
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It was a chance meeting with manager Bryan Gunn that triggered his trial with City.
“I bumped into him when I was in Portugal at a Bobby Robson charity golf event in Villa Sol,” said Bridges. “I go along every year and support it if I can and this year we met each other quite out of the blue.
“It was interesting what he had to say. He mentioned a few things and asked what I'd been doing and I told him I'd been offered a contract with a couple of clubs and the opportunity came up to go to Norwich so he could have a look at me and vice versa, so I could have a look at Norwich City.
“Norwich City is potentially a massive club in this division, it's up there with the big boys and I have got the opportunity to come here on trial with a chance of earning a contract. It suited me down to the ground to have the chance to play for a big team again, so it's a two-way trial in effect and I would be delighted to impress.
“They are a great set of lads, there's a good mix and they have made me feel really welcome. Obviously (assistant manager) Ian Butterworth was at Hartlepool so I've seen him a bit of him.
“I knew of (coach) Ian Crook from my time in Australia - I knew a lot of the players in Sydney who spoke about him, all the lads talked about him. I played against Theo (goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos) a couple of times out there and the gaffer asked me about him in Portugal and I bigged him up because he is a fantastic goalkeeper. They won the league the year I was there and a lot of it was down to him. He's a hell of a signing.”
Bridges joined City in time to head to St Andrews where his fitness has been put straight to the test, the talk of his injury nightmares a subject that is hard to avoid.
“It's a fact of life,” said Bridges. “The gaffer said, 'we don't know about your injury', and I said, 'listen, I'm quite happy to come down and show you what I can do and you can have a look at me and I will show you how fit I am and if I can offer you something different then fantastic. So hopefully I am doing the right thing and I would love to earn something here.
“The injury problems were really back in my Leeds days and unfortunately I had three years where I missed it and you want to play as long as you can.
“I was fortunate, I started at 16 in the Sunderland first team and people think I've been around for bloody years but I started so early.
“At Hull I went to Carlisle on loan - they offered me a two year deal which I knocked back this summer.”
Darlington and Lincoln have also been keen on Bridges, who is now hoping City firm up their interest with a contract offer.
“I have obviously missed two weeks of pre-season and I've been wanting to get some ball work done but I was surprised with myself how I coped,” said Bridges after a 90-minute session under the Scottish sun.
“I was up there and put in a good performance so hopefully I can do enough to earn a contract and show them that I still have a lot to give because I am only 30.”
Lincoln manager Peter Jackson confirmed: “I've spoken to Michael quite a few times over the summer holidays, and I spoke to him yesterday. He's at Norwich at the moment, so we will have to wait and see.”