Stephens has a taste for the big time at Norwich
Michael Bailey Young Norwich City defender David Stephens is eager to make an appearance in League One having made his first team debut last week.The academy defender replaced Gary Doherty for the last 20 minutes of the Canaries win at Gillingham in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last Tuesday, and put in a robust stint at centre-back.
Young Norwich City defender David Stephens is eager to make an appearance in League One having made his first team debut last week.
The academy defender replaced Gary Doherty for the last 20 minutes of the Canaries win at Gillingham in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last Tuesday, and put in a robust stint at centre-back.
After sampling the top of Norwich City's playing tree, Stephens now wants to do the same in League One and help the club's push for promotion.
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He said: “I definitely want to play in a league game, I'd say that's one of my aims for the season. Hopefully a league start as well, that would be an aim.
“But also get a nice run of games in the reserves as well, because it's not easy sometimes when you're a young pro, you are not in a youth team and there are no reserve games. Now we've got the reserve league back, I think that helps a lot of us.
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“If you're not playing games then you're not going to be fit, and when called upon you need to be fit, you need to be ready.”
The youngster, who celebrates his 18th birthday on Sunday, was not expecting the call to come at the Priestfield Stadium.
“I was on the bench and I couldn't say I was expecting to get on, but I was warming up and the manager told me to get ready, get my shirt on,” said Stephens. “The adrenaline starts rushing then, and the next thing you know you're on the pitch.
“It's a bit of both fear and excitement to be honest, but I think once you're on there, once you've got the first touch, it is a normal game. I made a few good blocks, a few good tackles, so I was happy with my performance and the team ground out a 1-0 win, which was perfect.
“The pace is definitely a lot different. From youth team to reserve level, it's a set up and the first team is another step up, but you've just got to adapt.
“You've got to take your touches quicker, everything you've got to do quicker. We're used to it in training, so hopefully we can do it in matches.
“Every day normally we're training together with the first team, so it's going well. Everyone is playing with confidence and it's a nice place to be at the moment, definitely.”
Academy products Luke Daley, Korey Smith and Tom Adeyemi have been given a chance in League One by Paul Lambert this season, with George Francomb the latest of Stephens' old Under-18 team-mates to be draft into action for his league debut, at Carlisle on Saturday.
Stephens said: “I was on the bus back from Carlisle and George was really tired, he fell asleep - proper tired from the game - but I was delighted for him.
“I'm delighted for all of them, I get on well with every single one of them and to see them playing is just great, and hopefully it's not too long before I can get a chance regularly.”
Stephens was on hand to help Norwich City's Football in the Community launch this season's Kickz programme at Norfolk FA's new Football Development Centre, in Bowthorpe.
The scheme is designed to give children aged 12-19 the chance to play football, rather than turning to antisocial behaviour or crime, and Stephens was happy to back the project.
“I come from a place where there's not a lot of this, so to see it happening is really good, getting them off the streets and not in trouble is perfect really,” he said.
“I'm from just outside north London, Welwyn Garden City, and there are not a lot of these projects, there's not a big club in the area to do it, so it's good that they've got Norwich City to help promote it as well. And maybe they've got the next Norwich star here.”
The Wales Under-19 star is enjoying being a part of Lambert's Norwich City plans - and admits no one at Colney is left wondering what they should be doing when they turn up each day.
“I'd say he came here and from the start we've known exactly what he wants,” said Stephens. “He wants a hard working team, he wants a team to play with a lot of passion, he wants us to get after teams and he's told us we can be up there at the end of the season, and we believe we can as well. So confidence is sky high at the moment.”