Pilkington eager to strut his stuff in the Premier League
Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington insists he has sustained no psychological damage from the injury that delayed the start to his Canaries career.
The 23-year-old has been out for five months after dislocating his ankle and breaking his fibula playing for Huddersfield but, after coming on as a substitute in City’s last two friendlies against Real Zaragoza and Parma, feels he is well on his way to attaining the match fitness, which persuaded Norwich to sign him this summer.
“It was a bad injury but I think it looked worse than what it actually was,” said Pilkington, who set up Andrew Surman’s second goal on Saturday to complete a convincing 3-0 win. “It was only a twisted ankle kind of thing.
“You can have knee injuries that can keep you out for a couple of years like Vaughny (James Vaughan).
“I had an injury that was terrible to look at but it’s only been five months to come back and there’s no real psychological damage. I don’t see any reason why I should be wary of it.”
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Pilkington feels that all the hard work of rehabilitation in getting the ankle right once again has been worth it and is ready, if required, to play a part in the Canaries’ Premier League opener at Wigan on Saturday.
“I’m just relishing being out there and getting my fitness back and playing to the best of my ability,” he said. “I can’t wait to get 100 per cent fit and show everyone what I can do.
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“I’m just going to keep working hard on the training pitch – if I have to wait a couple more weeks then so be it, it’s up to the gaffer.
“I feel I’ve got some good playing time under my belt now. I’m not 100 per cent fit but if the gaffer wants me to start (against Wigan) then I’m not going to say no.”
Pilkington knows that competition for places will be fierce with the famed diamond midfield that has taken the Canaries to two successive promotions supplemented by the signings of Elliott Bennett, Bradley Johnson and Pilkington himself.
But Lambert has told his squad that no-one is guaranteed a starting place and Pilkington, who can operate on either flank, is looking to play a big part.
“The gaffer has told us that no place is nailed on,” he added. “He said on Wednesday to ‘go out and earn a starting place’.
“I’m realistic. I’ve just got to keep working hard on the training field to get 100 per cent fit and then we will see how we go from there.”
Lambert’s summer recruitment drive has certainly given the Scot a lot more options and players will have to get used to the idea that they may not start every game.
Pilkington understands that at Premier League level it’s a squad game and the manager could adapt his starting line up according the opposition.
“You look at your Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas and they are constantly changing their team,” said Pilkington.
“You can’t go into every game with the same team and that’s why we’ve got such a strong squad now.
“The gaffer is happy with what he’s got and we’ve got some real talent in there.”
Pilkington admitted that he sometimes has to pinch himself after rising up through non league with Atherton Collieries to potentially coming up against some of the best teams in the world this season.
“It’s been hard work coming up through non league, even into the Football League. I’ve stepped up now to the best league in the world.
“I’ve worked hard all my career and these last five months have been a blip but I’m looking to come back even stronger.”