Last updated : 27 January 2003 By editor

You made your Premiership debut as a sub in the 5-3 victory against Newcastle, how was that experience?

It was strange. You’re so used to watching games on the sidelines and not being involved. Then to be suddenly in the middle of it takes some getting used to. It was good, though. It’s a feeling you want more and more – playing in those games makes you hungry for more.

Laurent Blanc signalled to the bench that he was having a problem – did you know straight away you’d be coming on?

I had a good idea, as the Gaffer and Mike Phelan told me to keep warming up and keep warm. You could see that Laurent was struggling so I thought I might get a chance. Even so, I didn't expect it.

What was going through your mind as you took the field in front of a packed OT for the first time?

You just run on and hope to do as well as you can. You don’t think about nerves once you’re on, you’re more nervous when you’re on the bench to be honest. I just concentrated on the game and tried to enjoy it.

Did you have to keep your eye on Kieron Dyer?

Yes, it was weird. You’re so used to watching these players on the television and suddenly you’re playing against them. It’s good experience to be playing against such good players and testing yourself against them.

Was it a big step-up from the Reserves?

It was, yes. I think the pace is the main difference – first team games are a lot quicker than Reserve matches. Then there’s the quality of the players you’re up against – you have to be on your toes all the time.

You had a shot on goal didn’t you?

Erm…. It was more of a cross, really!

Your other first team experience came in the heavy League Cup defeat at Highbury. Could you take many positives from that match?

I think we did well for a lot of that game. It was just when it came to finishing chances where we struggled. It was the kind of game when you just have to be strong, defend well and take your chances. They had a strong team out, and the experience showed at the end of the day. I think we showed that we have potential, though. Again, it was good experience for us all.

Were you pleased with your performance in the Arsenal match?

I was quite pleased. Nothing really sticks out in my memory, but I was just pleased to play in the game and get the experience.

Did the manager offer you any advice as a player after those matches?

He just always says that I need to talk more. I’m quiet, and he says that to make the step up I’ll have to be a bit louder and communicate more on the pitch. That’s held me back a bit and is definitely something I have to improve on. It’s not easy for me but I’ll just have to try my best. He’s also told me I have to be stronger sometimes, especially playing in the back four. I should also not respect people as much as I do. I’m too nice!

For those fans who haven’t seen you play yet how would you describe your style?

I’d say I’m a tough defensive player and I like to get forward when I can. I like to think that I give one hundred percent in every game and that I’m committed too.

What would you say are you biggest strengths as a player?

I’m told that it’s my pace and my tackling ability. I’d probably agree with that.

Do you see yourself as a full-back or a centre-back, as you’re played in both positions for the Reserves this season?

Probably a full-back. I played centre-back for the Under-19s, but if I was to play for the first team it would be as right-back. I’m probably a bit small to be a centre-back. I’ve played there for the Reserves because they’ve been a bit short in that area this season with Alan Tate on loan and David May injured. I can play there, but I’m more of a full-back.

Has the successful introduction to the first team of John O'Shea inspired other players trying to break through?

Definitely. We’ve seen Wes and John O’Shea come through so we know it’s possible. The challenge is staying in the team once you’re there. John and Wes have done well and have stayed in there, so that gives us hope for when we get our chances. You just have to take that chance when you get it.

Have you set yourself any goals this season in terms of the first team?

No goals, I just want to get involved as much as I can. It’s going to be hard breaking into the team with the defenders we’ve got at this club, especially now they’re all back fit. But you have to keep going and keep working hard for the Reserves.

Who do you admire most at the club?

Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. Scholes because he’s such a great, clever player, and also because of the way he is off the pitch – he doesn’t get involved in any of the media stuff which I admire. Keane is a great captain and a great leader of the team. You can tell the difference when he’s not in the team.

Do you try and bring bits of their game into yours?

A little bit. You look at them and try to learn from them, as you do from all the first team players. Playing around such great players you’re bound to pick things up off them.

Who is the hardest player to play against in training?

I wouldn’t like to mark Ryan Giggs very often!

Has the arrival of Ricky Sbragia brought anything new to the Reserve set-up?

He’s brought in a few new ideas, and he’s tried a few new things with us. He seems like a good coach. It’s a hard job being a Reserve manager, as we don’t play that many games. It’s more about training, as far as I can see. But when we do play games we all like to do well in them.

You had a very successful loan spell at Wrexham – do you feel you have to prove yourself when you go to a lower league club because you're signed to Manchester United?

Definitely. It’s a good chance to put yourself in the shop window and let other teams have a look at you while getting first team experience at the same time. All the coaches were good, and I got on well with the lads so I really enjoyed it there. I wouldn’t mind going out on loan again, to another club, actually. It gives you a taste of first team football, and coming back here and playing for the Reserves just isn’t the same as playing in front of big crowds. Playing once or twice a week in a first team is what you want, really.

You were named Young Player of the Year there, and became a fans’ favourite signing autographs and all that. Is that good preparation for life at United?

Hopefully, yes. When you go to lower League clubs you become one of their main players. It’s good when that happens and the fans like you. It’s all good experience.

At Wrexham you beat Swansea in a Welsh Cup Final, how does that match compare to a Manchester Derby?

Not as many people know about it, but there is rivalry there. It was a final so both teams really wanted to win it. It’s not as big as a Manchester Derby but it means just as much to the fans.

You're a Bolton lad, what do your mates think of you playing for United?

A few of them are Bolton fans, so I get stick off them! A lot of my other mates are United fans though, so they get behind me and want me to do as well as I can.

Which team did you follow when you were younger?

United. I’ve always been a United fan. My mum and dad are both from Salford and my dad has always been a United fan so I followed in his footsteps.

Who were your favourite players?

Bryan Robson and Paul McGrath, I’d say. Robbo was a great player and was always someone I looked up to as I was a midfielder when I was younger. I wanted to be like him! And Paul McGrath is a great role model for any defender. He had it all – pace, calm on the ball, tough tackling.