Can he kick it? Yes Robert can - Worthy

PUBLISHED: 14:06 04 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:20 14 September 2010

RICK WAGHORN

Nigel Worthington has stoutly defended Robert Green's right to make his own decisions after the England goalkeeper angrily responded to sarcastic cheers from home fans in Saturday's match against Leicester City.

City boss Nigel Worthington has stoutly defended Robert Green's right to make his own decisions after the England goalkeeper angrily responded to sarcastic cheers from home fans in Saturday's match against Leicester City.

Green earned ironic applause from frustrated supporters in the first half of the Canaries' 2-1 victory when he played the ball short to Craig Fleming rather than kicking it upfield - and was seen to respond with a gesture to fans behind his goal in the Norwich and Peterborough Stand.

The 26-year-old 'keeper later admitted there was an edgy feeling in the stands at Carrow Road when he said: “It is not the best atmosphere to play football in at the moment.”

Worthington, well aware of the complex situation facing a goalkeeper once the ball rests in his hand, said Green was in a position where he had to make snap judgments.

“It's the goalkeeper's decision - and it's not an easy one,” said Worthington.

“There are a lot of things that are going to be going through your mind and you've got just six seconds to make your decision once the ball is in your hands.

“Who's available? Who's free to receive the ball? And if there's an opposition player marking him, then he's got to kick it - it's as simple as that.”

Green was in no mood to apologise - even if he understood the fans' frustrations.

“It's all well and good to give stick out, but you know, when you get some back and you're not happy about it then, y'know, that's your problem,” said Green in a BBC Radio Norfolk interview after the game. “It's a passionate game and people are passionate about it.”

He admitted he understood fans' frustrations after a season of under-achievement. A campaign that once promised so much has delivered so little. Promotion is no longer a realistic possibility - and defeat at Preston North End on Saturday would end even the Canaries' slender mathematical chance of finishing in the top six.

“These are not easy times,” said the City 'keeper. “To be honest, it is not the best atmosphere to play football in at the moment. You notice it almost immediately you come out. Apart from when we are scoring there is not a lot of support out there. It's not ideal - but that is the situation.

“It is a case of having strong minds as well as strong bodies at present. We are showing our character by winning games at Carrow Road despite the lack of atmosphere. The football isn't always going to be the prettiest, but that has been the case for most of the season. I don't think we have played three games on the spin where the performances have been really top-class and every player has deserved high marks.”

On the kicking or throwing debate, he said: “Personally, you know, I'd love to throw it out every time.”

In one prime example, Green's smart throw to Darren Huckerby enabled him to set up Robert Earnshaw for his first City goal in the 3-0 win over Brighton.

For the supporters, throwing the ball out to feet demonstrates a side committed to playing football on the floor. When Green opts to smash the ball high and long upfield, to those same supporters it is a sign of a team going “long ball” - their frustrations not helped by the sight of a towering centre-half all too often comfortably winning the resulting header against the diminutive figure of Earnshaw.

For Green, however, such plans often come unstuck when either his team-mates don't make themselves available for the throw or, more commonly, the opposition players simply block his intended throw.

“I'd love to play Arsenal-like football, but it doesn't happen because we're not Arsenal and I can't throw it out every time because we haven't got the players Arsenal have got,” said Green.

“Sometimes it's just not on because you're playing against eleven other players and they're going to stand in the way and make it as difficult for you as they can,” said Green.

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