work on that too. I think my heading over the last 12 months has really improved, and my reading of the game, and my technique has obviously improved. Most general things have developed as a result of full-time training.
Does training with the senior players help?
Definitely, and we train with them more than you’d probably think. The day after a game the first-team squad members who didn’t play train with the Reserves, because the Reserves isn’t a massive group. It also happens during international weeks, when you’ve got the older players and those who aren’t picked for their countries – the likes of Paul Scholes, Giggsy, Gaz Nev. We train with them and that’s great for us because you can see the things they do and pit yourself against them. You might try to mark them, or they’re marking you, and you can see how you get on. It’s really good.
Who have you come up against recently?
During the September international break we had Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. Plus Dimitar Berbatov has retired now, so has Wes Brown, so you’re playing against them. Even in little possession games you can
find yourself up against Rio, or Scholes – he is unreal in training, he and Giggs are unbelievable. So if you’re tackling them and doing well against them, then it’s a great boost.
How did you find the experience of playing alongside Rio and Wes in the Reserves?
It was brilliant. Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] said to me before the Oldham game: “Just enjoy playing with the England captain.” At the time you’re just so focused on playing well that you can only appreciate it when you look back. Throughout the game he was always talking, and when he tells you “well done” for something you’ve done right, it doesn’t half boost your confidence. The same applies with Wes. Wes is really an international defender; he’s chosen to retire. So when he’s talking before the game and telling you what to do during it, it’s a great lift. The same applies to when he tells you what to do next time, if you’ve made a mistake. They’ve been there and done it, so they know exactly what they’re talking about.
You’re usually very vocal on the pitch; were you giving orders back to them?
Yeah! That’s another thing Ole said to me before the game. Obviously they’d be talking to me and trying to