Halliday now on a mission

DAVID CUFFLEY Matthew Halliday currently has one of the shortest Norwich City first team careers on record - but will be doing his utmost to change that in the coming season.


Matthew Halliday currently has one of the shortest Norwich City first team careers on record - but will be doing his utmost to change that in the coming season.

The 20-year-old central defender's only senior appearance to date for the Canaries came as an injury-time substitute for skipper Adam Drury in the Carling Cup tie at Torquay last August.

But Norwich-born Halliday has been handed another year in which to try to force his way into manager Peter Grant's plans, and is determined to make the most of it.

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Halliday rose through the Academy ranks and was given a one-year professional contract last season. After just a few fleeting seconds of fame at Plainmoor, he spent most of the campaign captaining City Reserves, as well as having a loan spell back at Torquay in League Two.

But he declared himself “very happy” with the new one-year deal he was given by Grant at the end of last season, and is hoping it will provide the breakthrough he craves.

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He said: “Obviously you'd like a bit longer as anyone would because you know your future's secure then, but I'll take a year any day. It gives me another year to prove myself so I'm thrilled about it. I'm chuffed.

“My targets? Hopefully to break into the first team, play well, get recognised by the gaffer.”

The fact that so many of his fellow Academy products featured in Grant's line-up last season gives Halliday hope.

He said: “He's given Michael Spillane a chance, Chris Martin, Robert Eagle, so it's been encouraging for me personally, but for the position I play it's quite hard to break in. I'm just biding my time really, waiting for the right opportunity and if he wants me I'm always there.”

Halliday knows, however, he faces a battle for that recognition with Gary Doherty, Jason Shackell, Dion Dublin and any potential new signings competing for places in the centre of defence, and he would welcome another loan deal if it delivers first-team football.

He said: “Dion Dublin has been huge, massive, such an intelligent person, knows the game and he's helped everyone around the place. Craig Fleming was a good help when he was here.

“I'd like to go out on loan again this season. I'm 20 at the minute and it's quite hard to get in here, being a centre-half, but I could go out and get a bit more experience. It all depends where it is but I would like to go on loan. That would help me as a player.

“Torquay was a good learning curve. Colin Lee down there was brilliant, such a nice man, and Keith Curle came in while I was there. It was a chance to play four or five games in that month.”

Halliday, with Norwich “since I was about nine” and a former Sprowston High School pupil, said he wanted to add a mean streak to his game.

He said: “I'm tall and I'm quite calm on the ball. I don't get flustered, I'm good with my feet, good with my head. But if anything I need to be a bit louder - more ruthless, perhaps.”

He decided to forego a summer holiday this year - apart from a trip to the Isle of Wight music festival - and stuck rigidly to his training schedule ahead of today's full-time return to Colney.

He said: “I'm looking forward to getting straight into it. Last year I wanted to play more in the pre-season games. This time we've got a couple of games at Carrow Road and I'd love to be involved in that.”

When Halliday was given his new deal in May, Grant said: “I think with his size and stature he deserves a chance for me to see him a little bit more. He is probably one I will look to let out on loan next season.”

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