Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy turned 22 today and believes he has found a good mix of youth and maturity in his career.
“I’m still young at 22 and feel that I’ve definitely got my best years ahead of me.
“The gaffer said to me the other day that I’m getting an old head on my shoulders, which is a big compliment.
“Since I came here three years ago I feel that is the case because I had to bide my time which was a little frustrating but, now I’ve pushed myself and I’m really enjoying being in the starting XI every week.”
McCarthy is currently with his international team-mates as they prepare for a friendly against Greece, something which the midfielder sees as a benefit to his Premier League form.
“Playing at international level is a good way of getting even fitter and I think that will have a good effect on what I do back at the Club.
“Hopefully I can get more game time under my belt for Ireland and I want to get as many caps as possible.
“It is brilliant to be involved and the boys make me feel so welcome. I like going away for Ireland and I’m enjoying playing games.”
After Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, McCarthy wants the team to be able to kick on and said he must work hard to continue his run of 38 consecutive starts in the team.
“The game was frustrating because we wanted to get another three points and try and kick on up the table.
“At the start of the game I thought it was only a matter of time until we would open the scoring because we just passed and passed and had them in their own half.
“We’ve got to take the result on the chin and learn from any mistakes so that we can continue our good run of form.”
“It is great to be playing week after week but, you can’t take anything for granted and I have to continue to work really hard.
“If you get too comfortable and relax too much it will come back to bite you so, I just have to keep up the hard work and fight hard to maintain my place.”