Worthy's pat on the back for Spillane

CHRIS WISE Rising star Michael Spillane was given a big pat on the back by his manager at the weekend after making an impressive full debut for the Norwich City first team.


Rising star Michael Spillane was given a big pat on the back by his manager at the weekend after making an impressive full debut for the Norwich City first team.

The versatile youngster, who only turned 17 last month, was given his big chance in front of more than 30,000 fans at Hillsborough and took the big occasion in his stride to turn in a commendably disciplined performance at right-back.

Spillane's defensive work was generally neat and tidy and he also moved forward to good effect at times, almost setting up a goal early in the second goal when a fine overlap and cross presented Ian Henderson with a guilt edged chance which his fellow academy product was unable to take.

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In the end there was to be no fairytale finish for the youngster, with City boss Nigel Worthington withdrawing him from the fray eight minutes from time and Wednesday going on to inflict a third straight away defeat on the Canaries.

But it was still a thoroughly satisfactory afternoon's work from the Republic of Ireland youth international, whose only previous experience at the top level had been a brief run-out at the end of City's FA Cup defeat at the hands of West Ham back in January.

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Worthington was certainly impressed, and providing the teenager is up to the physical demands of a second game in three days he is likely to give him another taste of the big-time against QPR this afternoon.

“I made my mind up after last weekend that Michael would be playing and broke the news to him on Monday. He has responded to the challenge very well indeed,” he said.

“I thought he did very well and that was a big plus for us. He showed today that he is a very capable young player.

“He can play right-back, centre-back and in midfield and it's a case of nailing down the position that is right for him and right for us.

“We'll have to see about whether he gets another chance against QPR. He was very tired towards the end and that is the reason we brought him off. That's all part of the learning curve as far as the young ones are concerned. We'll just have to see what he is like on Monday and take it from there.

“Hopefully he will be okay because we are working towards next season and we will continue to do that over the next three games.”

Worthington made a point of not going overboard in his praise for such a young player. But he clearly believes Spillane has got the ability to make an impact in the professional game - and also feels he has got the character to succeed.

“He can deal with the situation fine,” commented the City boss. “He is a very level-headed young man who knows what he wants and how to go about it and at the moment he is doing quite nicely.”

As for the game itself, Worthington was more than satisfied with his side's display, even though they suffered yet another defeat on their travels. Had it not been for a mix-up between Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell, who both went for, and missed, the same ball to allow Marcus Tudgay a run on goal, then City would have picked up a hard-earned point for their efforts - but sadly it was not to be.

“I was very pleased with the performance,” he said. “We got close to people, we got challenges in and we created chances.

“Unfortunately our two centre-halves have got tangled up and we have paid the price for that.

“But there were a lot of plusses, even though we were obviously very disappointed with the outcome.

“I think we were good value for money and a draw would probably have been a fair result.”

It could have been a very different story had the Canaries taken the clear-cut opportunity that came their way midway through the first half. Darren Huckerby found himself with a clear run on goal from the halfway line after Wednesday had been caught short at the back but instead of shooting he chose to spread the ball wide to Ian Henderson, who had strayed into an offside position. Worthington was less than impressed with that passage of play.

“That should have been a goal,” he said. “Darren is old enough and he is big enough - and in a situation like that he should have tried to stick it in the back of the net and asked questions later. If you are a selfish striker there is only one thing you want to see - the ball hitting the back of the net.”

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