‘Mr Perpetual Motion’ revealed today that he was in the form of his life ahead of tomorrow’s Premiership home clash with Swansea City.
Bradley Johnson has been one of the start turns of the autumn as the 24-year-old midfielder clocks up mile after mile in the Canary cause.
Indeed, according to the Opta-style statistics and data collection, Bradley Johnson ran further distance-wise than any other Premiership player in that away trip to Old Trafford.
Barely a blade of grass was missed by a player who is fast-proving a total steal given that he arrived on a free from Leeds United over the summer and now has talk of him being on the England provisional stand-by list ahead of the recent round of Euro2012 qualifiers.
“It’s a great achievement for me to be even watched by the England [scouting] team,” said Johnson, speaking at Colney this morning.
“They’ve said that they have been watching me and now I’ve just got to keep my performances up for Norwich and see where that takes me.”
Johnson’s non-stop effort in the heart of that Canary engine room has long caught the eye this autumn; he appears to have taken to the top flight like a duck to water and re-discovered the kind of form that saw Arsene Wenger running the rule over him as a teenager at Arsenal.
That early potential is now being realised on the biggest of footballing stages – and against the biggest of footballing names. An audience of 76,000 at Old Trafford last time out hardly found Johnson freezing in the spotlight. Quite the reverse.
“I’m very happy with the way I’ve been performing – I think it’s the best football I’ve played and I’m back in my natural position of centre-midfield,” he said. Both Welsh international Andrew Crofts and David Fox have been his partners in the middle of late and on the basis of the level of performance all delivered against the Premier League champions, the expectation is that Fox and Johnson will welcome the Swans tomorrow.
The England interest, he said, was just a bonus.
“It’s at the back of my mind, but I can’t afford to concentrate on that – I’ve just got to concentrate on doing my best for Norwich City Football Club and if I get a call-up then that’s a bonus for me.”
The bonus for Paul Lambert and Co is the sheer athleticism of the player and the level of ‘shift’ he puts in. He clearly runs for fun.
“That’s just my natural game,” he said. “I work hard. I’m a box-to-box player and if I’ve got to work hard for the team, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll work hard for the team and make sure that the hard work pays off.”
With a full pre-season under his belt – and a manager fully behind him – Johsnon believes he is as strong and as fit as he has ever been. And Norwich are duly reaping the reward.
“It was a hard pre-season, but I feel fit and strong and I’m proving that in my performances,” he said. “I can run all day, but it’s not all about running.
“You’ve got to be able to play as well and, like I said, I’ve got good players around me this year and, hopefully, it’s all paying off in the performances.”
The drive comes from a simple desire to get a foot on the ball – and a firm belief that he can mix it with any of the star turns in this division. Reputation cuts little ice with our Bradley.
“If the ball is two yards away from it, I’m going to win it – if the ball is 20-yards away and I’ve got to make a run for it, I’m going to try and win it as well.”
Even if it is sat at the feet of an F Lampard, for example.
“I’ve watched the likes of Frank Lampard since when I was a kid, but when I’m stood next to them on the pitch I’m not thinking: ‘Whoa, that’s Frank Lampard…’
“I’m thinking: ‘I want to beat you and do the best that I can…’
It is a mentality that is likely to take both club and player a long way in this division.
Team-wise and Lambert could go unchanged again. Zak Whitbread remains out with his hamstring strain; he, Elliott Ward and Daniel Ayala are ‘not a million miles away’, according to the City chief.
Tomorrow’s game is, however, just too soon.