Wilbraham hoping to face former club
Striker Aaron Wilbraham is hoping tonight’s meeting with his former club will provide him with the opportunity to stake his claim for a place in Norwich City’s Premier League plans.
The 31-year-old has a good chance of starting the Carling Cup second round tie against Milton Keynes Dons at Carrow Road (7.45pm) as manager Paul Lambert plans to rest most or all of the players on duty against Stoke two days ago.
Wilbraham scored on his last competitive outing for the Canaries, the 3-2 Championship victory at Leicester in March, before a back operation ended his season prematurely. He scored three times in City’s pre-season programme but has not made the squad of 18 for either Premier League game so far. Now, almost six months after netting his first goal for the club at the Walkers Stadium, Wilbraham is eager for another taste of first team action.
“Depending on what team the manager goes with – if he does go with a few people who haven’t played – it’s a chance for them to try to make a point,” he said. “It is a big squad and everyone’s together and accepts there are going to be changes each week. That’s what you want a big squad for, to give players a rest when you need it and put other people in and make sure they’re ready to go. There’s strong competition in every position at the moment. Everyone wants to play every game and that’s only going to be good.
“We have such a big squad covering every position all over the park so I think every time someone gets a chance to play they’re going to give it their all to stay in the manager’s plans.
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“I’m feeling sharp. I did the whole pre-season and have been feeling really confident. It’s a waiting game, waiting for your chance and a lot of the boys are in my position at the moment where they’ve not had a chance but you’ve just got to try to take it when you get it.”
Wilbraham joined City from MK Dons in a reported �100,000 deal at the turn of the year and now prepares to face his former team-mates, who are top of League One with 10 points from four games.
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“When the draw was made I wasn’t aware of it until a few of the MK boys started texting me about it. I’ve been having a bit of banter with them,” he said. “They’re doing well at the moment and they’ll be coming here in high spirits. They’re top of the league and they’ve started well and it will be a tough game.”
Karl Robinson’s men beat Chesterfield 6-2 on Saturday with Sam Baldock scoring a hat-trick and ex-Canary Luke Chadwick among the scorers.
“It was a big result for them, they’re scoring a lot of goals. They will come here full of confidence,” said Wilbraham, who predicts a bright future for Baldock, reported to be a target for West Ham.
“He’s only a young lad still. I think he’s going to be a top, top player – he’s like Michael Owen, really, fast, getting behind the defence all the time, he makes clever runs and he’s a good finisher.”
Wilbraham was in the visiting line-up the last time MK Dons came to Carrow Road in April 2010, and had an eventful afternoon in a bad-tempered League One game, which finished 1-1. He gave his side the lead but conceded the last-minute free-kick from which Chris Martin equalised, earning a second yellow card in the process. “I scored and got sent off and I think I got injured in that game as well, so I did everything you could do,” he recalled.
Wilbraham has never been further than the fifth round of a major cup competition but believes the Carling Cup offers a realistic target for City. Birmingham won the competition last season before slipping to relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
“Sometimes it can go the other way. If you have a good cup run it’s just how you deal with it at the time,” he said.