Mark Bower reaches a decade as a City player tomorrow but admits: It doesn't feel that long.

The local-born defender will step out against Morecambe at Valley Parade, ten years after making his senior debut against Norwich.

Bower said: "It's been a very eventful period for the club in that time, although it has flown by for me. The last ten years have certainly not been dull with everything going on.

"But it's been fantastic to have been here so long and to play for the team that I supported as a boy. I've met and played alongside some great people and it's the sort of thing that you dream of."

Bower was a raw 18-year-old when he was thrown on by Paul Jewell for the last 25 minutes at Carrow Road. With Wayne Jacobs limping off injured, the teenager found himself at left back.

He said: "I was thrown in the deep end a bit because I was up against Darren Eadie, who was one of the best right wingers in the division at that time. I also remember OB (Andy O'Brien) man-marking Craig Bellamy.

"We were under a lot of pressure because Norwich were going for the play-offs and hurled everything at us. It was 3-0 to us when I came on and they pulled a couple of goals back but we managed to hang on and win 3-2. I really enjoyed it.

"It was a great experience because I had only signed a contract a couple of weeks before and never expected to be playing. The manager took a few of us young lads down and it was the first overnight trip we'd ever been on.

"I thought we were just going along for the ride and to actually get on and play was brilliant. A week later I made my full debut and then we won the youth League Cup after that, so I look back on that time with a lot of fond memories."

Bower still had to bide his time before finding an established slot in the side. While City were playing in the Premiership, he was on loan at York.

"That stood me in good stead for 2002 when some of the big-hitters were leaving the club as the money troubles started and I got my chance," he said.

"We've had some ups and downs since but I've been lucky enough to play quite regularly in the first team."

Bower has had a mixed campaign after losing his place to Matt Clarke in November. Illness and injury disrupted his comeback bid and he needed a knee operation to remove cartilage after breaking down at Accrington on New Year's Day.

But he has returned to play the last four games, renewing his partnership at the back with David Wetherall.

Bower, now 28, admits the skipper's presence also helps when he sees the younger faces in the dressing room, saying: "The last couple of seasons it really has hit home that I'm one of the oldest.

"There's not that many in the squad with kids but, with Wethers still playing, I still feel quite young. When he stops in the summer, that might be different!"

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