Surman savours an Manchester City exam

Midfielder Andrew Surman is ready to face the best in the business after stepping out of the shadows to help Norwich City to a vital victory.

Surman spent eight successive Premier League games on the substitutes’ bench without getting a kick before winning a recall against Queens Park Rangers last week, playing a key part in a crucial 2-1 home win.

The 25-year-old now hopes to keep his place for tomorrow’s sell-out game against unbeaten leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium (3pm).

“The hardest part is mentally. I’m probably an absolute nightmare for my wife, when I go home and I’m not playing,” said Surman. “But it’s part and parcel of being a footballer. There are big squads. The squad is not just going to consist of 15 or 16 players.

“You are going to have 20 players or more, especially in the Premier League, so everyone has to be prepared for the fact that they might sit out for a little while.

“On the other hand, it’s good to have competition for places. It is as frustrating as hell, but as soon as you get back in you’ve got to take your chance and try to keep your place.”

Left out after the 1-0 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion in September, Surman kept ticking over with four reserve matches, but the game against Rangers was his first taste of senior action for 11 weeks.

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He was recalled on the left-side of midfield, took the corner that led to Russell Martin’s opening goal and then had a hand in the build-up to substitute Grant Holt’s second-half winner.

He said: “It’s been a couple of months since I had a game. I’ve been playing in the reserves but it’s not quite the same as running out on a Saturday. It was great to be involved and even better to get a win as well.

“After playing week in, week out last season, it’s difficult. I’m sure any footballer will tell you it’s sickening to sit on the bench, but everyone will get their chance eventually. The manager said from the start of the season, it’s not just the eleven who go on the pitch, it’s the 22 or 23 who are making the squad every week and possibly not even getting on the bench.”

Manchester City have a crucial Champions League group game at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, but Surman does not believe they will take their eyes off the ball tomorrow.

He said: “You’d like to think they’d take their foot off the gas but at the end of the day they are professionals and they want to go out and win the game. But I think when we went to Manchester United you saw how well we played and if we can repeat that at a big stadium against a big club, top of the league, I’m sure we have a chance.”

The Canaries, 10th in the table, must play seven matches in 31 days, starting tomorrow, to take them past the halfway stage of the season.

“Maybe we’ve taken people by surprise,” said Surman. “It’s been a great start but it doesn’t mean anything if we get to the end of the season and we get relegated, so we have to keep getting as many points on the board as we can. I think we have enough strength in depth to carry us through seven games in four weeks.”