No time to think of home for Norwich City’s Blackburn-born Anthony Pilkington
09:21 20 April 2012
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Anthony Pilkington will be looking to add to his Premier League goal tally for Norwich City tomorrow – even if it means helping to relegate his home town team.
Pilkington was born in Blackburn and supported Rovers as a boy, in the glory days of the 1990s, so the trip to Ewood Park (3pm) will be something of a family occasion.
But the 23-year-old forward promises old loyalties will count for nothing as the Canaries aim to bounce back from their 6-1 hammering at the hands of Manchester City by recording their sixth away win of the season.
“It’s going to be a good game – for me personally and all my family, being up there,” said Pilkington.
“I’ve asked for a load of tickets. I said to the lads ‘I need as many tickets as possible’. My dad said just to get as many as possible. He didn’t even give me a number.
“I think 90 per cent of them are Rovers fans so it will be a good day for them but I’ll be going there just to do my job as normal and bring home three points for Norwich.”
Blackburn are facing a fans’ protest march tomorrow with Steve Kean’s team second from bottom of the Premier League after five straight defeats. Pilkington hopes they can still escape the drop, but not by taking points off Norwich.
“I’m a professional footballer, so it doesn’t really come into it. For me it’s just a normal game,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter who I’m playing against. I’ve played against my brother before - that’s even closer than the team I used to support.”
And if he adds to his eight goals for City by grabbing a late winner tomorrow, he admits: “I’d do exactly what I’d do if I scored against Manchester United in the 89th minute or against any other team. I’d be running off celebrating my goal for Norwich City.
“They’ve had all season to try to stay in the league so it wouldn’t be my goal that sends them down.”
Pilkington supported Blackburn in the time of Kenny Dalglish’s Premiership title-winning team in 1995. He was on Rovers’ books as a youngster but was released.
“My home was about three miles away from the ground. I was a Blackburn fan and used to watch them every week with my dad and my brother and my family,” he said.
“I used to watch them when they won the league when Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton and people like that were playing, so they were the good times for the club.
“It’s a really good club and only one of a few teams that have won the Premier League so for them to go down this season would be really disappointing.
“I hope, after Saturday, they can pick themselves up and stay in the league.
“It’s a very tough league and if you see the teams that are down there they’re all scrapping.
“Wigan have been down there all season but they put a little run together now and they’ve got some really good results under their belt and it looks like they’re going to be safe.
“I think Blackburn have got some tough games but I hope they can get themselves out of trouble and stay in the league because it’s good for me and my family if I can go there and play again next season.
“I definitely don’t want to see them go down but I hope they don’t get any points at the weekend. That’s football.”
The two sides drew 3-3 at Carrow Road in October, but City trailed 3-1 with eight minutes to go.
“We scored a couple of late goals and it was a game where we showed great enthusiasm and team spirit to get back into it. That game epitomises what this club is about – never giving up and fighting to the last minute.
“I’m sure it will be a really tough game again. They’re fighting for their lives.”
Eight goals in 27 Premier League games represents a very respectable return for Pilkington after jumping two divisions from League One last summer.
“It’s not bad at all to be honest. I don’t give myself a target for goals but I’ve chipped in with a few this season, so it’s been all right,” he said, even happier with City’s first year back among the elite.
“Most people had us down to go down. We’re not mathematically safe – I can’t say we are safe or the gaffer will be on my back – but we’ve had a great season and we don’t want it to fizzle out.”