I just can’t get enough, admits super fit Crofts
Andrew Crofts was busy congratulating his former team-mates on winning promotion this week – but hopes he will not have to play against them next season.
Brighton and Hove Albion, runaway leaders in League One, clinched a place in the Championship with five games to spare when they beat another of English football’s more colourful names, Dagenham & Redbridge, 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Midfielder Crofts, who left the Withdean Stadium last summer to join Norwich City, was quick to salute his old clubmates, who have been even more dominant in the third tier under manager Gus Poyet than Paul Lambert’s team last season.
However, he is desperately hoping the Canaries will also be moving in more elevated circles by August.
“I’ve sent a few texts out and I’m over the moon for them,” said the Wales international. “It’s a great achievement for them and I think they’ll do well next year because, like us, they’re a good footballing side.
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“It would be the ideal situation if we’ve made that step up as well.”
Crofts has been a revelation since becoming Lambert’s first close season signing for a bargain fee believed to be about �250,000.
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He has missed just two Championship matches – at Millwall and Coventry – and has scored eight goals to help keep City in the thick of the promotion battle with five games to go, as well as playing four international matches while most of his colleagues were enjoying a break.
Not for him the moans and groans about an overcrowded fixture schedule.
In the words of the new terrace anthem at Carrow Road, he just can’t get enough.
“I love it, to be honest. I’d play Saturday-Tuesday every week if we could,” said Crofts.
“I’m pretty young, 26, I love playing every game. Saturday-Tuesday would be great for me, but it doesn’t work out like that. Thick and fast is the way I love it.”
Despite the combative nature of his midfield role and the crunching tackles which, like his lethal finishing, have become his trademark, he has remained remarkably free of injury.
“Touch wood, most years I’ve played the majority of the games,” he said. “This season I’ve missed one through suspension and one through illness and a couple when I was away on international duty, so it’s a good tally. Every year I like to play as many games as I can.
“I like to work hard in games anyway. I’m young, fit and three games in seven days is something to look forward to for me.
“Training’s brilliant, the tempo’s always good. I love training but there’s nothing like a game and that’s what we live for.”
Crofts admitted that he didn’t immediately dream of promotion when he swapped the South Coast for a move to Norfolk.
He said: “I didn’t really look that far ahead. When I signed I just wanted to cement my place and settle in as quick as I could. I was lucky enough to do that.
“Now, looking back on it, I think everyone would have taken where we are at the moment. It’s a great achievement so far, it’s been unreal to be fair.
“I’m not feeling the pressure. I don’t think any of the boys are. We’re in a great position and we’re just going to enjoy the last five games.
The first of those is tonight’s televised game at home to Nottingham Forest, who are well aware of Crofts’ capabilities after he scored in the 1-1 draw at the City Ground in August.
“I scored the equaliser up there but I’ve said all along I don’t care who’s scoring them or who’s setting them up as long as we get the three points. It’s a bonus,” he said.
“It’s a massive game but I don’t think it’s going to be the decider – that will be the end of the season.
“We realise what’s at stake but we’re loving every minute of it and we just want to keep going.”