Norwood happy to be in good company
Published 29/05/2014 | 14:12
Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood admits he still feels "like a kid" when he reports for international duty.
Despite being just 23 the Huddersfield player is actually one of the more established figures in a depleted squad that will take on Uruguay on Friday and then Chile on June 4.
He became a regular in Michael O'Neill's first XI during the previous campaign and was eager to continue his development in South America, while the likes of Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt, Craig Cathcart, Martin Paterson and Jamie Ward opted against making the trip.
Norwood won the battle for Cristiano Ronaldo's shirt when Northern Ireland played Portugal in World Cup qualification and is delighted to be sharing a pitch with more big names in the coming days.
"It is exciting, I'll admit it. I'm still like a kid coming in to the squad and it's great to play against the likes of Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan," he said.
"They are top-class players and I want to take as much as I can from this tour and put it back into my own career.
"I've never played a South American team and it's an experience I want on my CV. Any time you can put yourself up against top-class opposition can only stand us in good stead for the qualifiers.
"Every game in the campaign will be tough, as we found out last time. there will be no easy games and no right to win any given game.
"Against the bigger nations we are known for performing a lot better so hopefully we can give another good account of ourselves against Uruguay."
There are five uncapped players in Northern Ireland's travelling party - Trevor Carson, Luke McCullough, Liam Donnelly, Ryan McLaughlin and James Gray.
None may have made the cut had O'Neill had a full panel to select from, but Norwood sees their promotion to the senior ranks as a chance to expand the player pool ahead of Euro 2016 qualification in September.
"I've been in the same position as these boys. You have to take your chance when it comes, I'm sure that's what Michael is telling them too," he said.
"If they get a chance in the game they'll need to impress and I hope they do because we haven't got the resources of other countries who can call on 30 or 40 players in a campaign - we're looking at 22-23 realistically.
"Everyone is willing the young lads to come in and impress and they've been welcomed with open arms."