Clarets fan Norwood out to upset his family and friends

Oliver Norwood in action for Reading
Oliver Norwood in action for Reading
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Clarets fan Oliver Norwood admits his heart still beats for Burnley - but he is determined to knock them off course tomorrow.

The Northern Ireland international comes to Turf Moor with Reading, with the Royals looking to join Sean Dyche’s side among the Championship frontrunners.

The 24-year-old hails from Burnley - indeed, his parents can see the Turf from their house - but the former St Theodore’s pupil isn’t worried about upsetting family and friends.

The former Manchester United youngster has only lost once against the Clarets in four meetings, scoring in a 2-0 win for Huddersfield Town 2-0 years ago at the John Smith’s Stadium.

And he looked ahead to returning ‘home’: “I was saying to my family, the first time I played against Burnley it was weird - I didn’t know what to expect.

“I had always wanted to play professionally at Turf Moor.

I won’t have many friends if we win!

Oliver Norwood

“But it is part and parcel now, I’ve done it a few times and I just look forward to it.

“I won’t have many friends if we win! But it’s only work at the end of the day.

“I always want Burnley to win, just not when I play against them!

“We just want to try and get the three points that would take us level with Burnley and put us in a strong position.”

Reading are sixth in the table, three points behind Burnley, and Norwood - Reading’s standout performer so far this season - is pleased with how things are going at the Madejski Stadium: “It’s looking good, and we should have had more points - we battered Derby and lost after we had a man sent off right on half-time, against Sheffield Wednesday they scored with the last kick of the game after a mistake, and we missed a penalty last minute at Birmingham.

“We’ve started well, and I’m just enjoying playing again. It’s exciting times for us. Last season was disappointing, finishing 19th - that’s not acceptable. We spoke about that as a group and we want to be up there with teams like Burnley, Boro and Derby.”

Norwood was an interested observer as Burnley drew 0-0 at Derby on Monday night, and is looking forward to potentially locking horns with a new Clarets signing: “I’ve played against Joey Barton before with Huddersfield against QPR, and he’s a good player. We know what he brings to the table.

“Speaking to my mates, they think it’s a shrewd signing, and I’d agree, he’s got that experience and is a fantastic footballer.

“It would be a good battle.

“The club have spent a lot of money on Andre Gray as well, and the fans have been begging for that.

“But whoever plays, it is always difficult for teams at Turf Moor, I know that personally. I’m sure we will be really up for it, it is a good test and a chance to go level with Burnley.”

Norwood, who has played second team cricket for Burnley, feels the Royals have their own threats, however: “The gaffer is reluctant to talk about other teams, we believe in what we do and feel clubs should worry about us and not the other way round.

“We have a good squad and made some good signings, people like Matej Vydra, and Ola John, who is supposed to have a €50m buy out clause from Benfica, and we’ve looked really good.”

Things are looking good on the club front, and with Northern Ireland, he is on the brink of reaching Euro 2016: “We’re one win away from history with Northern Ireland, potentially.

“It would be an unbelievable achievement if we did do it - we’ve never qualified for the Euros before, so it would be special.

“I wasn’t even a thought in 1982 or 1986 when we were at the World Cup, but we know what we have to do. But I have to put it to the back of my mind and focus on Reading.”