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Interviews

INTERVIEW: It's been a good season for me

18 March 2016

Alex Gilliead on his latest England call up and the Wycombe game

We spoke to Alex Gilliead ahead of training on Thursday morning about his latest England call-up.

"I'm over the moon to get called up again," he said. "It's another opportunity to impress on a big stage, but I'll be focusing on our game against Wycombe until that comes around.

"I don't take the call-up for granted. I still get excited and anxious when I see the team come out. I click on it and hope I've been selected, so it's always a proud moment for me and my family. I think it's good for the club as well, because I'm representing them, so I'm always over the moon to get called up."

"It's a bit of a surreal feeling when you walk out with the England shirt on," he told us. "I've said it before, but when you're growing up you want to play for your country. When you walk out and sing the National Anthem you do have to think 'is this real' but it's great.

"Every time I do it I try to think like it's the last time I'm going to get the chance, so I try to impress as much as I can." 

At the start of the season the young forward went into the campaign in the last year of his contract with the Magpies, and uncertain about what the future would hold, but following his loan move with United and a string of international appearances things look much more secure with a new deal already in place over in the north east.

"Back in August I was at Newcastle on the last year of my contract and I was playing U21 football," he explained. "There's nothing bad about only playing U21s, but you need to be out playing men's football at my age. I think I've taken some huge strides this season, in terms of playing first team football week in, week out, getting called up for England and getting a new contract at Newcastle.

"It's been a good season for me. I just need to push on with Carlisle now and try and help us get into the play-offs. First team football is totally different to U21s, individually you can have a bad game but if you produce one bit of magic and score or set up a goal, everyone is over the moon.

"You're always playing for the three points and the win is the big thing for everyone. The gaffer has been good with all of the players, but especially the young lads who have come here on loan. He's given us all a lot of pitch time and opportunities. He knows we'll make mistakes because we're young players, but he sticks by us and keeps giving us chances."

Looking ahead to the weekend home game, he said: "I thought we played well when we played down at Wycombe earlier in the season. We should have got the three points even though we went down to ten men early on.

"We're going into the game thinking we can win. I think we need to win because we've had a few draws lately, so a victory would get us right back up there. They're pushing for the play-offs as well so it would bring us closer to them and keep things tight at the top.

"Confidence is still sky-high and I just think we need to get that win. We've been playing well over the last few weeks but we just aren't scoring the goals. We could have nicked it against Exeter but a draw away from home is still a decent result. If we could get the win and score a few goals tomorrow I think that would do us all the world of good." 

And on the different roles he's had to play, he said: "The manager has different plans and shapes that we can play, so wherever I fit in I'm just happy to be playing. If I don't fit in and I'm on the bench I'm always ready to come on and help the team. 

"We've got a good morale in the changing room, nobody is playing for themselves, everyone wants the team to do well and get into the play-offs."

Speaking about the change of manager at his parent club, he said: "I suppose it will affect me because obviously next season I'll be going back there. For now, I don't really let it bother me, because I have a job to do here. Hopefully he can keep us in the Premier League, which I think he will, but my focus at the moment is on Carlisle.

"If I need to speak to him I will. I might learn to speak Spanish if he keeps us up! I went in to the stadium to do some gym work over there earlier in the week, because we had a few days off, and I did see the new gaffer but I just shook his hand and said hello.

"As far as he's concerned his main aim is to keep the team in the Premier League. He has to get on with that at the moment so I'm just focused on trying to get Carlisle into the play-offs."

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