Doherty relishing competition for places

PUBLISHED: 11:14 17 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 10 September 2010

Young central defender Dario Dumic – here in action against St Johnstone – will be battling for a starting berth this season. Picture: David Lamb

Young central defender Dario Dumic - here in action against St Johnstone - will be battling for a starting berth this season. Picture: David Lamb

Chris Lakey

Gary Doherty admits he is on trial for his own job at Carrow Road this summer as Bryan Gunn sets about rebuilding the Norwich City squad. The man who finished the relegation season wearing the skipper's armband says he welcomes the manager's policy of keeping loan signings to a minimum because it will increase competition - even if his central defensive position is under threat.

Gary Doherty admits he is on trial for his own job at Carrow Road this summer as Bryan Gunn sets about rebuilding the Norwich City squad.

The man who finished the relegation season wearing the skipper's armband says he welcomes the manager's policy of keeping loan signings to a minimum because it will increase competition - even if his central defensive position is under threat.

Gunn has brought in Michael Nelson who, on the face of it, appears top be the natural partner to Doherty - but Jens Berthal Askou impressed yesterday in the second match of City's three-game tour of Scotland, and youngsters Dario Dumic and David Stephens are waiting in the wings.

It leaves Gunn with the sort of choices that were rarely available last season, when Doherty was one of the few constant in a vital area of the team.

“Everyone is on trial, including me,” he said. “Obviously last season counts for nothing, which is probably a good thing for most of us because we got relegated, so it's kind of a clean slate.

“The gaffer has brought in some decent players and we are all on trial and we all need to do well, that is the main thing, that is why you need competition.

“The other good thing is the new players seem to be signing for years now instead of just months.

“Now they know they are here to stay and they have to give everything for Norwich or they are just going to be left in the reserves, so that is obviously a good thing and I think that will help us next season.

“If you are a loan player and you come in and you're not playing you think to yourself, 'well I may as well be at my own club and not playing', so I think when you are here and you are signed up and you live here and Norwich City means everything to you that's when the good competition for places starts and players have to fight for their position if they are left out.”

Doherty says the quartet who have signed so far - Matt Gill, Michael Nelson, Owain Tudur Jones and Michael Theoklitos - have proved that permanent singings works.

“There is certainly a good feeling in the camp because we are all in similar positions,” he said. “I am not dead against loan signings or anything but I think you need a core that are going to play every week and that are signed up for Norwich and hopefully if we do get in a couple of loan signings they will be the right loans and they will do a good job for us.

“Now that we have a main core of a squad I think we will be good in this league.”

Doherty had treatment straight after yesterday's win over St Johnstone after taking a kick on the thigh early in the second half, but while the problem is by no means serious, the Republic of Ireland international is wary of a repeat of last summer, when an ankle injury sustained on the summer to Sweden kept him out until October.

“It was just a little knock,” he said. “I managed to get through the game and that's the main thing in pre-season, you just want to be getting 90s and keeping fit really.

“Obviously I had a disaster last season with the injury I got in pre-season so I want to be careful this pre-season.

“This is still very early days, matches wise, and I am sure the gaffer will start penning down a solid back four maybe for the last couple of pre-season games so we know what we are doing in the first game of the season.

“That is probably key - there were too many changes in the centre half department last season. We were getting so many injuries and that made it difficult to get anything going there, so hopefully this season will be a bit different.”

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