Young midfielder wants first-team experience to continue his Canaries development
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Local lad Alfie Payne wants to be playing first-team football next season, whether it’s with Norwich City or out on loan.
The 19-year-old midfielder has been a regular for City’s under-23s this season, scoring once in 25 games, and has been wearing the captain’s armband recently as well.
“I’ve spoken to some of the staff at the academy and the next step for me is definitely to play men’s football,” said Payne.
“I would love that to be here at Norwich but if I’m not ready, a loan move would be perfect for me so I can get some more experience.
“To play for three points each week in a really competitive environment is the next progression for me.”
The Norwich-born youngster has been with the club’s youth system since he was eight years old and doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration from the academy either, with Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey all regulars in the first team this season.
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“It’s great for me as a Norwich fan because I go to the games and see Todd, Ben, Jamal and Max playing. It can only motivate us more to try and follow in their footsteps,” he continued.
“With Max in particular, I played with him a few times in the under-14s and played regularly from the under-16s. He’s a good mate of mine so I’m always messaging him after the games saying what I think of his performance.
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“But it’s amazing to see him playing out there in front of 26,000 people at Carrow Road every week.”
Payne, from Cringleford, signed his first professional deal last summer and did get a taste of the first-team environment in November when he was an unused substitute as Daniel Farke’s team won 4-0 at Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship.
“When I saw ‘Payne, 40’ on the board, it was quite surreal,” he reflected. “It was a great day at a great stadium too and to win the game 4-0 was extra special.”
That pro contract evolved recently when he was one of seven players to sign new deals, described by City as one-year deals, believed to commit the likes of Payne, Anthony Spyrou and Ciaren Jones until at least the end of next season.
“It was a great moment for me,” Payne said, looking back on signing his initial deal. “Since the age of nine, I’ve always been looking up to the first-team players and that’s always where you want to get to.
“Each year I’ve been working hard, trying to get myself to that situation and to finally be offered one felt like I had achieved a lifelong dream.
“But it’s now about getting in the first team and getting more involved with them.”
The teen has also been used in a number of different positions during U23s games this season, including playing at left-back during a 3-3 draw at Nottingham Forest in the Premier League Cup on Monday.
“I would say I’m quite a versatile central midfielder,” Payne continued, speaking to City’s matchday programme. “I’ve played in loads of different positions for the under-23s this season, I filled in at centre-back and in attacking midfielder.
“So I like to think to think I can do a bit of everything. My strengths are my passing and dictating the tempo of the game.
“I enjoy getting on the ball as much as possible and I enjoy doing the defensive side of the game as well and making sure I work hard for the team.”