Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Euro experience has left Oliver Norwood primed for Premier League push

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland star Oliver Norwood intends using the experience of playing at the Euro 2016 finals to help his new club Brighton challenge for promotion to the Premier League.

Norwood revealed that he made his decision to move from Reading to fellow Championship club Brighton after speaking to international team-mate Aaron Hughes, who previously played for the Seagulls, while the chance to work with manager Chris Hughton was also a key motivation.

The 25-year-old is expected to make his debut in tomorrow's Championship opener at Derby County and could come up against another Northern Ireland colleague, Chris Baird.

"Playing at the Euros was an incredible experience and something that I will hold with me for the rest of my life," said Norwood. "I now want to draw on that and hopefully add a bit of experience of playing in those games and the big occasions that come with them.

"I spoke to Hughesy about his time here and he spoke so highly of the club, mentioning the facilities, the stadium and that it's set up to go to the Premier League.

"He's a wonderful person that's achieved so much. I know he didn't get the game time he would have liked here, but if I have half the career he has, then I'll be very happy."

On former Tottenham favourite and ex-Newcastle boss Hughton, Norwood stated: "What he has done in football speaks for itself. When I had a conversation with him, I was sold on the club. He told me his vision for the team and what he wants to do.

"My ambition is to play in the Premier League and I am sure the ambition of everyone at Brighton is to get there as quickly as possible. Having had that conversation with the gaffer, it was an easy decision for me to come to the football club.

"I have played against Brighton on numerous occasions; it was always a team that I have looked at from afar and admired the way they play football.

"I like to get on the ball and pass it. I like to make things happen, get assists and chip in with a few goals. I haven't scored too many lately, but it's something I do want to add to my game.

"I just want to get on the ball and make things happen. When we haven't got the ball, I want to win it back as quickly as I can and win as many tackles as possible."

Also tomorrow, Blackburn host Norwich which could see Northern Ireland's Corry Evans up against Michael McGovern and Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ward's Nottingham Forest taking on Burton and Bristol City up against Wigan, who will have Will Grigg in their line-up.

The Championship kicks-off tonight with Fulham at home to Rafael Benitez's Newcastle while, on Sunday, Conor Washington and Stuart Dallas will go head to head when QPR meet Leeds and Aston Villa travel to Sheffield Wednesday.

Skybet Championship fixtures: Tonight, Fulham v Newcastle (7.45pm).

Saturday (3.00pm): Birmingham v Cardiff; Blackburn v Norwich; Bristol City v Wigan; Derby v Brighton; Huddersfield vBrentford; Ipswich v Barnsley; Nottm Forest v Burton; Reading v Preston; Rotherham v Wolves.

Sunday: QPR v Leeds (12noon); Sheff Wed v Aston Villa (4.30pm).

Belfast Telegraph


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