‘It feels like it’s been a long time coming’ – City defender hopes this time it’s for real
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As far as positives go, Grant Hanley was happy to take 90 minutes for Norwich City in their 1-1 draw with Barnsley at Carrow Road – with the Scotland international’s real hope it won’t stop there.
On a generally dreary afternoon that saw Daniel Farke’s Canaries scrape a point at home to the Tykes, Hanley completed his second match since arriving in the summer from Newcastle United.
In fact the centre-back, 26 on Monday, has played 90 minutes just three times this season – and that following only a bit-part role in the Magpies’ Championship promotion last term.
It’s all driving the Scot’s desire to finally get some regular first-team action.
“It’s been over a year since I had a run of games, so I feel that would be important for me to get back into the swing of things,” said Hanley.
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“I’ve played a couple of games now but when you’ve not really played that much, there are still wee bits and pieces, position-wise and things like that you slowly need to creep back into your game.
“And it’s always the same. No matter how much you train and how hard you work, it’s never the same as the Saturday when there are fans and it means something.
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“But I’m enjoying it. I’m just enjoying getting some time on the pitch, because it feels like it’s been a long time coming.”
That has certainly proved to be the case. Hanley only picked up odd minutes here and there following his signing in late August, before his first start came in the Carrow Road defeat to leaders Wolves on Halloween night.
“They signed me right at the end of the window and they had been struggling defensively, but credit to the lads – since I came in they’ve been first class, so I’ve been sat on my hands and I couldn’t really complain,” added Hanley.
“And that’s probably a good thing about this team here, because the spirit is right up there with the best I’ve ever been in, and I take that as a massive positive.
“I’ve been sitting on the bench wanting the lads to do well and I’m sure when I’m playing – like maybe Zimbo (Christoph Zimmermann) hasn’t started this one, but he’ll be sitting there wanting me to do well.
“So all the lads are together and all pushing in the right direction. That’s really important, especially in the long run for the season with number of games we’ve got, because there are going to be changes.
“It’s important we all push each other to make each other better players, and ultimately that’s only going to make the team better.”
Sadly not much of that was on show at the weekend, when most inside Carrow Road were hoping the international break would have brought a noticeable improvement on the three successive defeats that preceded it.
Tuesday night’s trip to Nottingham Forest gives another chance at swift improvement, but Hanley admitted such a reaction to the break was disappointing.
He added: “When you get beat before an international break it’s always a bit of a downer, but it’s up to the lads to get themselves right and they have been the last two weeks. “Training has been really good, we’ve worked really hard. And I think you learn pretty quickly in this league that there is no point in being too excited if you get a good result or too down if you’ve had a bad result – because it’s not going to last very long.”
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