AARON Webster hopes his fifth start of the season for Burton Albion is a springboard for more regular appearances for the Brewers.
The 32-year-old Albion stalwart has endured his most frustrating campaign for the club following several injuries and the arrival of left-back Damien McCrory.
He was used as a defensive midfielder in last week’s 1-0 defeat at Northampton Town and showed up well against the aerial threat of Adebayo Akinfenwa and Clive Platt.
Webster, who is still one of the best headers of the ball at the club, relished the challenge and is hungry for more.
“I enjoyed it — I’ve done it before,” said the long-serving Webster. “I think it was more of a withdrawn role, not a ball-playing deep-lying midfield role.
“It was more of a shield for the centre-halves because they have big lads in their side.
“I enjoyed it, I enjoy aerial and physical battles because that’s part of my game.
“I was happy to get a game in that position and am always happy to get a start, wherever I’m playing.”
It has been a frustrating season for the popular Webster, but he has vowed to keep working hard to earn a place in manager Gary Rowett’s starting line-up.
“I’m versatile and adaptable to any position really,” said the former England C international. “My season has been my worst for appearances since I’ve been at the club.
“It’s been frustrating — injuries and Damien’s good form — but since November I’ve been getting into it more and getting a few more games over Christmas period. The games come thick and fast and we’ve had injuries and suspensions.
“You’ve got to be professional and keep a good attitude.
“It was a surprise to get out there last week - I was just gutted we didn’t get a point.”
Albion did well to combat Northampton’s aerial threat before a momentary lapse allowed Akinfenwa to win it.
“It was a sucker punch,” said Webster. “It was fun having that aerial battle.
“You’ve got to be aggressive because they’re big guys.
“You’ve got to go out there expecting a challenge and we matched them in that area with me and Zander (Diamond) and Stanno (Nathan Stanton) behind me.
“We did well but that one time we didn’t. We came out with a different formation.
“I slotted in just in front of the centre-halves and it was working.
“They’re a big side and we knew they were going to use the long throws, corners and set pieces.
“We knew we had to defend that and we did that really well.
“One lapse in concentration, a mix-up and it led to a goal.
“We were all gutted to come away with nothing after putting in a big shift.”
Burton’s away form has confused many observers, with nine wins coming at the fortress that is the Pirelli Stadium and only three on the road — and none since November.
“I think it’s baffled all of us,” said Webster, who was at centre-half in the impressive away win at Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup.
“If anyone knew what was wrong we would’ve done something about it by now.
“We changed it last week and it nearly worked. We’ll have to see what we can do for the next away game.
“We’re really confident back at home and just need to bring some of that to away games.
“We’ll keep working on it and see how we can do for the rest of the season.”
Tomorrow, new signing Ian Sharps is expected to make his debut after joining the Brewers on loan from Rotherham United for the rest of the season.
Webster is excited at the prospect of playing alongside a defender widely considered one of the best in League Two.
“He’s a really good centre-half and I’m surprised we got him,” said the 32-year-old.
“He’ll add some more competition for places - we’ve already got three good centre-halves and I’ve filled in there too.
“It’s just going to help the club and team towards one of those play-off places.”
Webster is feeling much fitter than in the early part of the season when a hamstring injury was affecting him - and he is hoping to reap the rewards soon.
“I feel good but I know I’ve felt far better before,” he said. “You feel so much stronger when you’re playing week-in, week-out and your fitness maintains itself.
“It’s tough to keep match fitness when you’re playing, say, only every three weeks.
“I felt good last week in that role.”