Spillane targets trophy victory to maintain run
The Johnstone's Paint Trophy is no laughing matter according to one of Luton Town's Wembley heroes, Michael Spillane. The 20-year-old enjoyed 'the highlight of his career' as the Hatters triumphed over Scunthorpe United in April's final during his season-long loan spell away from Norwich.
The Johnstone's Paint Trophy is no laughing matter according to one of Luton Town's Wembley heroes, Michael Spillane.
The 20-year-old enjoyed “the highlight of his career” as the Hatters triumphed over Scunthorpe United in April's final during his season-long loan spell away from Norwich.
As the Canaries set out on their first adventure in the competition with a first round south tie at home to Brentford tonight (7.45pm), Spillane - set to return after serving a one-match suspension at the weekend - believes the competition could yet provide Canaries fans with a highlight of their own.
“Obviously some people don't look at it as a big trophy, but when you're in the semi-final and you've got a trip to Wembley to look forward to, it suddenly becomes a big trophy,” said Spillane. “It's a good trophy and I'm looking forward to playing in it again.
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“Last year at Luton, the first game we had Brentford and there was not a lot of people, but when you start getting through the rounds and it starts getting closer, everyone starts to think, 'hang on a minute, we can get to Wembley here'.
“It's like any game. If you are put on the pitch you don't want to make yourself look bad and obviously you still want to win, so I don't think anyone looks at it differently.
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“Obviously the league is the priority but games of football are all the same and you want to win.”
Five rounds separate the Canaries from a Wembley date in the competition - with games that finish level after 90 minutes going straight to penalties, rather than any extra-time.
The Football League also requires teams to include six of their top appearance makers from the season in the Trophy ties, or find themselves being handed a fine.
But following his experience in the capital last season, Spillane feels a Johnstone's Paint Trophy run would help City continue their recent momentum brought by successive League One victories - sandwiching a reasonable performance against Sunderland in the Carling Cup.
“It was wicked, one of the best days of my football career by a mile,” said Spillane of April's final. “The day, and the night after was good as well - a great day and a great achievement.
“There were about 60,000 there and Luton had 40,000 of them, so the atmosphere was wicked and if Norwich get there I'm sure they will take just as many.
“If we win (against Brentford), everyone gets confidence and we are still learning to play with each other to a certain degree, so the more games you play with each other and the more games we win, the more confident we will get and take it forward into the league.”
But it is not just the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international who has fond memories of Wembley. Norwich team-mate Chris Martin also played for Luton in last season's final and scored the first goal in their 3-2 win.
“He still tells me about it every day and tells everyone - it was a good goal though,” said Spillane.
The defender missed out on City's 2-0 win at Hartlepool United on Saturday after his sending off against the Black Cats, an incident which also put keeper Ben Alnwick out of the trip to the north east with a nasty gash to his face.
Spillane said: “At the time I was really surprised when I got sent off, but seeing it back on the video I could see why it was given - it was just one of those things, it was unlucky. Some refs would give it, some wouldn't. I was unlucky it got given against me.
“It wasn't good for me to miss a game, but in the same respect I want us to win and I want us to get results. It's just football, really. It happens and it's not really a big deal.”
“I did say sorry (to Ben Alnwick) but he said, 'no it's alright', but when I saw his face after the game I felt a bit guilty, but it's just one of those things.”
Spillane has played in several positions in recent seasons, including central midfield and right-back, but has been preferred as a centre-half by current Norwich manager Paul Lambert.
“I haven't said anything about where I wanted to play, he just put me centre-back and obviously that's where he sees me playing,” said Spillane.
“I just give it a go. I'm happy playing there and I'm happy playing right-back as well. I'm not really bothered where I play.”