Bookies backing Earnie

PUBLISHED: 07:45 21 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:31 14 September 2010

While Nigel Worthington - and the City fans - wait for developments on the transfer front, there is consolation in the shape of Robert Earnshaw, whose goal-scoring feats since becoming a Norwich City player show no sign of relenting.

By CHRIS LAKEY

While Nigel Worthington - and the City fans - wait for developments on the transfer front, there is consolation in the shape of Robert Earnshaw, whose goal-scoring feats since becoming a Norwich City player show no sign of relenting.

Two superb strikes which sealed the 2-0 friendly win at Livingston on Tuesday continued a brilliant scoring run dating back to the end of January when he ended a miserable spell with Bryan Robson's West Brom to become a Norwich City player.

In 13 starts and two appearances as a sub in the yellow and green, Earnshaw scored eight times and then, when other players were beginning their summer break, the 25-year-old was at it again, this time on an international training camp, scoring twice in two matches - both strikes coming in the 2-1 defeat of World Cup finalists Trinidad & Tobago.

Earnshaw missed City's first pre-season game, at Fakenham, and played the second half at Cambridge without reward - but took just a few minutes to get on the mark with a cracking 25-yarder at Livingston, following up with a volley soon after.

It is that sort of form which the bookies clearly believe will run and run, and they forecast the Championship's “Golden Boot” race as one between him and Birmingham's new £3m recruit Cameron Jerome - ironically, a player Worthington had made his number one target in January before signing Earnshaw.

The internet betting exchanges have opened their books before their High Street counterparts, and Blue Square are giving odds of 11-1 on Jerome finishing top of the goal charts, with Earnshaw at 12-1. Skybet have them at 12-1 and 14-1 respectively while Bet365 can't separate the two, and rate them at 12-1.

So would Worthington back him?

“Yes I would - he's a goal-scorer and I have every confidence in him,” said the City boss. “What we have to make sure is we give him the ball. He can create things himself but there are others who can create them as well - there is that ability within the group.”

The next Canaries striker in the bookies' thoughts is Peter Thorne, who, although he suffered badly in front of goal last season has been bright in City's warm-up games, hitting three goals and is rated a 40-1 shot by bet365. Leon McKenzie's odds range from 33-1 to 50-1.

West Brom's Nathan Ellington is high up in the bookies' thoughts, third favourite at 14-1 to 16-1, with the likes of Stephen Elliott (Sunderland), Clinton Morrison (Crystal Palace), Grzegorz Rasiak (Southampton) and Mikael Forssell (Birmingham) not far behind.

Canaries target, Luton striker Steve Howard, is rated between 28-1 and 40-1 to finish top of the stats while there is indecision on Rob Hulse, a player Worthington admires but cannot afford to prize away from Leeds, with bet365 and Blue Square quoting 16-1 but Skybet a staggering 125-1.

The High Street bookies have odds for the more traditional bets, with City rated sixth favourites to win the Championship crown, their odds ranging from 11-1 to 14-1, behind Birmingham, West Brom, Sunderland, Leeds and Southampton. Ipswich don't fare so well, predicted to finish around mid-table with odds ranging from 25-1 to 40-1.

City's odds of winning promotion range through the top two spots or the play-offs range from 11-4 with Ladbrokes to 9-2 with BetFred and Blue Square - putting them seventh in the “table”. Ipswich slip to 14th, with odds between 8-1 and 14-1.

When it comes to relegation, City are considered outsiders, with odds ranging from 14-1 to 25-1 and, not surprisingly, Colchester are considered the best bet for an immediate return to League One, with Southend and QPR not far behind.

Blue Square are also offering regional odds, with City rated as 2-7 to finish as top side in East Anglia, with Ipswich a 5-2 bet. No other clubs are quoted.

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