Spillane glad to be back in fold
David Cuffley Michael Spillane admits he cannot wait for the chance to convince his fourth Norwich City boss in as many years that he is worth a regular first team place.
Michael Spillane admits he cannot wait for the chance to convince his fourth Norwich City boss in as many years that he is worth a regular first team place.
The versatile 20-year-old has had only a brief taste of senior football with the Canaries despite making his debut nearly 3� years ago, his 18 appearances spread across the reigns of Nigel Worthington, Peter Grant and Glenn Roeder.
But after being awarded a two-year contract extension by manager Bryan Gunn in April, Spillane says pre-season training cannot start quickly enough.
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A bitter-sweet season on loan at Luton, which brought relegation from the Football League but triumph at Wembley, added to his football education - but the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international said he always hoped to return to Carrow Road.
And with the City players reporting back to Colney for fitness testing in a fortnight, Spillane will not have to wait long to make an impression on another different management team.
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“I'm looking forward to coming back and being part of the squad again, at last,” he said.
“I can't wait to get started. Normally I have had to go away with Ireland during the break, but there were no games this time and it's gone quite quickly.
“It's always hard in pre-season doing all that running but there are a lot of games arranged, including one against Manchester United, so I'm looking forward to that.”
Spillane, whose last senior outing for City came nearly 18 months ago in a 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Bury, was offloaded to Kenilworth Road - along with striker Chris Martin - by former boss Roeder last August.
He made 48 appearances in all competitions for the Hatters as the two Canaries helped them lift the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with victory over Scunthorpe at Wembley, but were unable to stop them finishing bottom of League Two courtesy of a 30-point deduction.
“Going to Luton made me a better player and I was very disappointed we didn't stay up,” he said.
“We had a good team and I thought we could have got out of it, even with the points deficit. We had a good enough team, we were unlucky in a few games and it just proved too much in the end but we had a good season and I enjoyed it.
“I was always thinking of coming back but it was good to get away, play well and win a trophy.”
The decision to renew his City career was not a difficult one, he said, under a new boss.
“It was easy in a way when I spoke to the manager and he spoke about his plans for the club,” said Spillane.
“It would have been difficult before when I was in a position when I wasn't playing games. It was hard at times when I wasn't playing a lot or was not involved at all.”
It is still unclear in which position Spillane is likely to feature for City, however, after previous spells at centre-half, full-back and midfield. He has always regarded himself as a central defender first and foremost but Luton made the most of his versatility.
He said: “I played about the first 25 games at centre-back and the last 25 at right-back. I learned a lot more about the right-back position because I never really played there apart from a few games when I first got into the first team at Norwich.
“Nothing has been said yet, so it could be right-back, centre-back or centre midfield.”
Wherever he gets his chance, Spillane is under no illusions about the style of football City will encounter.
He said: “In League Two there was a lot of kick it and boot it, and we played three or four League One teams in the cup competitions and it wasn't that much different.
“A few teams played good football. Exeter got out of League Two playing football and still passed it around and they were the best of the teams that were promoted.”
Spillane, who has five under-21 caps for the Republic, is confident Martin will make his mark after a similar spell in exile, when he scored 13 times in 51 games for the Hatters, including a superb effort in the 3-2 win at Wembley.
“Chris should do really well, he scored a lot of good goals and he's ready to come back. I always said that given a run of games he would score goals,” said Spillane.