Payne thrilled to be involved

Josh Payne is looking to continue his hard work on the training pitch in a bid to catch the manager's eye for first-team selection.

The 18-year-old who can play at centre-back or midfield was part of the senior squad that spent part of this week at a warm-weather training camp in Spain. He said the time spent out there was beneficial both on and off the pitch ahead of Monday's game with West Bromwich Albion and that it was great to be involved.

"We had a good few days, it was something different but at the same time we worked as hard as ever on the training pitch. It was good to be with all the boys on and off the pitch in a different environment.

"The quality of training was great and very enjoyable. Each day you knew going down to the training ground that you were going to be working towards very high standards - but it was also nice to have some warmer weather to go with it."

Payne said everyone was already in high spirits following the two wins over Manchester City and Wigan ahead of the trip and that the mood was even better thanks to a few days spent together away from home.

"We worked hard but also had a little bit of time to relax and that some of that time was playing a little golf. I was up against the likes of Nobes and our physio George Cooper. There was no cheating going on, but I think I would have to admit I have some way to go before I beat them on the green! I tried to hit one straight and it ended up over the other side of the course, so I got some stick about that.

"The time spent off the pitch was good as well because it does help to bond the team closer and it was worthwhile as everyone gets ready for another important match this week."

For Payne himself, the rest of the season will see him keep his head down on the training pitch under the watchful eye of Gianfranco Zola, Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen. "It's been a busy season in terms of me going on loan [to Cheltenham] and then being in and around the first team recently. I want more of that and so I am going to be making sure I do all the right things, keep working hard so I can show the manager what I can do."