Pilkington: Everyone has to fight for a place in the Norwich City team

Speaking after a fortuitous 1-1 draw with Ajax, the former Huddersfield man believes competition for first-team places will help the team while new signing Snodgrass made his debut

Anthony Pilkington has hailed the competition for places in the Norwich City squad ahead of the new Premier League season.

The summer hardly started ideally for the Canaries as intense speculation regarding the future of then-manager Paul Lambert lead to the Scot departing Carrow Road for Aston Villa, but the dealings of new boss Chris Hughton have so far gone down well.

Steven Whittaker, Jacob Butterfield, Robert Snodgrass and Michael Turner have all arrived since, while Hughton is still targeting further additions - and the competition for places that new signings bring can only be a good thing according to Pilkington.

Speaking to reporters after the club’s 1-1 with Ajax, Pilkington said: “We have all been told that we have got to fight for our places and you look around the squad, it is a big squad now.

“The competition for places is great. We are all working hard to get that sharpness and hopefully come August 18 we’ll be straight out the traps.”

The former Huddersfield winger also highlighted the importance of pre-season friendlies, such as the Ajax encounter, noting that fitness does not guarantee sharpness.

He continued: “[Playing matches in pre-season] is massive. You can do all the running in the world but when you are out there it is a totally different ball game.

“Like I said, you can run straight lines for hours but match fitness and sharpness are totally different things, so friendlies are massive before the season starts to get your sharpness on the ball, find your touch, find your ranges for passing and shooting.

“They are incredibly important and we welcome them.”

Several new signings can sometimes provoke a clash of egos that can disrupt the harmony at the club, but Pilkington insists that has not been the case at Norwich.

“No, the spirit has stayed,” the Blackburn-born midfielder said. “The players brought are similar to those bought last season; young, hungry British players coming in again.

“Nothing changes, the new players are settling in well as are the staff.”

Following his move from Leeds United, Snodgrass made his debut for the club in the draw and, although he admits he would have liked to have played a few more minutes, he is just pleased to be integrating with the squad.

Snodgrass said: “It was good to get on the park in front of these fans. You want a little bit more time, you always do as a player, but I think the gaffer is slowly but surely bringing me into it, letting me get used to my team-mates.

“Playing against a team like Ajax is always a hard test for the lads.

“I am sure the lads will be excited for the start of the season, because I certainly am.  You want to go and put things right by making sure you’ve got a good pre-season under your belt and kick on.

“I’ve done all the fitness side of things; it’s just the match sharpness [now]. I need to try and get that under my belt, that’s the most important thing and there are a couple of games coming up.

“We can’t wait for the start of the season now and that’s what we are all working towards.”