'I've learned a lot' - Cantwell loving life at Norwich again after difficult spell
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Todd Cantwell is setting his sights on another promotion with Norwich City, after shaking off his strange start to the season with a superb strike to seal victory over Cardiff.
Cantwell added to Emi Buendia's first-half opener, with the Argentine setting up the England Under-21 international's strike in the 71st minute, as the Canaries earned a fully deserved 2-0 win to push five points clear at the top of the Championship table.
It was a first goal of the season as the Norfolk-born midfielder made just his sixth start of a campaign disrupted by injury and being left out by Daniel Farke due to transfer window distractions.
“I did really realise, having the time out and injuries, the time to reflect, that I absolutely love football and just being out there and playing is fun for me," Cantwell explained, after City guaranteed they would be top on Christmas Day.
"I do genuinely enjoy it – and I hope you can see that when I play like I did today.”
He continued: “I think before you start out as a footballer nobody really gives you those lessons, it’s been very much learning in the moment.
“I’ve learned a lot, I’ve been through a lot in my short career so far, had a couple of promotions (one with loan club Fortuna Sittard in Holland) and a relegation, so I think I’ve learned a lot and I’m going to put it in my stride now.”
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City boss Farke made it clear that he felt Cantwell and Buendia had been distracted after a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth in September towards the end of the transfer window - with widespread reports of Leeds being keen on Cantwell.
Buendia has been able to crack on with getting back to his best but hip and ankle problems restricted Cantwell, with three eye-catching cameos from the bench recently before starting and shining against the Bluebirds on Saturday.
"I think the important thing is always to contribute on the pitch, that sort of overrides everything," Cantwell said of his return to the front line.
“So giving performances like that, I think is the best way to repay getting back in the team.”
With City now seven points clear of third-placed Swansea ahead of a trip to promotion rivals Watford on Boxing Day, the Dereham-raised talent is determined to keep impressing and playing his part in the team effort.
“Obviously I’m a local lad and you guys all know the story, so for me to see the team at the top of the league was brilliant anyway," he added.
“Of course you want to be part of the team that takes the club back up again, obviously I’ve been part of it before and I know how it felt.
“So I definitely want to do that again, yeah.”
On his goal, the Canaries academy product said a chance spurned late in the first half had added to his determination.
“I had the opportunity in the first half when I opened out and the defender got back around that one," he said, after his ninth goal in Norwich colours.
"I thought I was going to put my laces through it, so glad to see it go in the back of the net."