Cameron Norman putting in hard yards at Walsall
Walsall defender Cameron Norman believes his hard work on the training pitch has put him in good stead for the starting XI as he bids to keep his place in the team.
The 24-year-old has been given more of a run in the side since Shay Facey withdrew early with an injury in the 1-0 win over Leyton Orient on New Years Day.
Facey has been on the sidelines since then and Norman is eager to turn his training ground miles into minutes on the pitch.
“I think it puts that added pressure on your shoulders because you want to perform so much," he said.
"But I think you’ve got to take yourself away from that so that you don’t go on the pitch and try too hard or do things you wouldn’t normally do.
"With me personally it’s training hard every week and when that opportunity comes I was going to be ready to take it.
"It’s almost sweeter when it happens that way because you can kind of take a step back and see that hard work off the pitch, that people don’t see, is then being rewarded on the pitch.
"You can keep that strong mentality and stay hungry, then it’s a whole lot sweeter when you come back in.
“I think the gaffer is keen to have competition for areas all over the pitch.
"If we’re going to be a successful team, we’re not going to just have 11 players so I fully expect to have competition and if we can thrive off each other, then that’s only going to help us individually and for the team."
Manager Darrell Clarke has started Norman in three of the last four games since Facey's injury and the 42-year-old has been pleased with Norman's response.
"Cam Norman is a very, very good trainer," he said.
"He knows what I want from him, more so when he's on the pitch.
"I think he's come in and done well over the last few games and Shay had done well previously.
"You want good competition for places and players pushing.
"Players have to keep showing me that they're capable of being top seven League Two players on a weekly basis.
"That's the message always to my players and I think over the course of the last eight or nine league games they've shown me that."