Nottingham Forest's on-loan Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand will be in England colours when he steps out on Friday evening at a former happy hunting ground, Norwich City's Carrow Road, as the three lions face Romania in the first leg of their qualifying Play-Off tie for the 2011 European Championship finals.
Bertrand was on loan at Norwich during a less than happy 2008/09 season for the club, who were relegated from the Championship at the end of the campaign. The defender himself stayed in the Championship last term, this time on loan at Reading, but was delighted to see the Canaries bounce straight back from League 1.
And he is thoroughly looking forward to returning as an England player to Carrow Road, where he established himself as a crowd favourite. "I really enjoyed my time at Norwich," the 21-year-old defender told football-league.co.uk. "They're an excellent club, the fans were great to me and I'm certain that on Friday night they'll give England the same fantastic support they give their own team week-in, week-out.
"I'm actually staying in the same hotel that I often stayed in when I was here playing for Norwich, so I'm feeling at home and looking forward to hopefully getting a good result on Friday to take us into the away leg of the Play-Off."
After playing a part in the qualifiers for the 2009 European Under-21 Championship but then failing to make the squad for the tournament, at which England reached the Final but lost 4-0 to Germany, Bertrand is desperate to not only help beat Romania but to then also be in the squad for next year's finals.
First things first, however. "I don't know too much yet about the Romanian team," he said, "but the gaffer (Stuart Pearce) will give us all the info we need before the game and we already know it's going to be tough. We've played a number of teams from that part of the world and they tend to put the emphasis on counter-attacking.
"We like to attack and the gaffer won't want to change our style of play, but we'll have to stay switched on whenever our attacks break down. We certainly feel we're good enough to go through though, and if we do that then it would be fantastic to be part of the squad for the finals."
After being part of a hopefully successful England team over the next week, Bertrand will return to club football and switch his attention back to helping Forest - currently 11th in the table after missing out in last season's Play-Offs - mount a promotion bid while gaining more first team experience away from his Premier League parent club.
All of his first team football has to date been played in The Football League and he said: "Playing for clubs like Norwich, Reading and Forest in the Championship has been an invaluable learning experience.
"Relegation with Norwich wasn't a nice thing to go through, but I learned lot that season and it was the same at Reading last year when we went from the bottom end of the table to almost put ourselves in a position to challenge for a place in the Play-Offs.
"Now I'm at Forest and really enjoying it, although it's been frustrating that we've had so many draws. We've not lost in the League since the first day of the season, but we've drawn seven of our nine matches since then and if just a couple of those had been wins we'd be up in the Play-Off places now.
"It's still early days though, and if we can start putting a few wins together there's no reason why we can't put ourselves right up there in the thick of things."
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