Huckerby fit to tame Black Cats

PUBLISHED: 13:40 02 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:47 14 September 2010

Darren Huckerby is fit and raring to help turn around Norwich's recent poor form with a win on the weekend over Roy Keane's Sunderland. Speaking at a charity dinner in aid of Jackson William's run across America, Huckerby said "I'm feeling very good."

Darren Huckerby is fit and raring to help turn around Norwich's recent poor form with a win on the weekend over Roy Keane's Sunderland.

Speaking at last night's charity dinner in aid of Jackson William's run across America, Huckerby said “I'm feeling very good. My back was tight to be honest, a couple of little niggles, and I got cramp in my calves in the last twenty minutes [of the Colchester game]. It was difficult, I hadn't trained at all for two weeks and then straight back in. Didn't really even train the day before, you know. It's nice to be back and with a few days training hopefully I'll be ready for Saturday.”

The Black Cats are smarting from a 2-1 loss at home to Championship leaders Cardiff and Huckerby, who returned to action for the Canaries in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Colchester, is eager to add to their manager, Roy Keane's, discontent.

Keane was not amused by Sunderland's capitulation at the Stadium of Light despite it being their sternest test to date. They have now lost four of their last seven games. “But what do you do?” he countered, “feel sorry for yourself? We'll kick on and get ready for Saturday. The least I expect is a reaction against Norwich.” He must fancy his chances. Norwich haven't won in their last three outings and have shipped an embarrassing number of goals, so Keane will not be the only manager hoping for reactions from his players. Peter Grant has made his feelings clear, City must win at home.

Level on points, Sunderland and City are separated only by the Canary's inferior goal difference, four worse than Sunderland, a result of their respective encounters with Stoke. Norwich were not alone to fall foul at the Britannia stadium in October but Sunderland's goal difference only took a dent of one, compared with City's five.

The Canaries supporters will be calling for nothing short of three points on Saturday. The largest crowd of the season enjoyed a wet and windy Halloween outing lacking in tricks or treats on Tuesday, although if Dion Dublin's neat back-heel to play Robert Earnshaw into the Colchester's penalty box had resulted in the winner, the fans, the media and the players would be less critical. Points win prizes though and if Norwich are to maintain aspirations of play-off contention then such tricks need to deliver real treats.

“It [Saturday] will be a tough game” said Huckerby. “But we've got nearly everybody back now. Crofty's still out but apart from that we're nearly full strength. We'll have to see what they chuck at us and hopefully we'll have enough to beat them.

On the well-being of Doherty and Fleming, who both limped out of Tuesday's disappointing draw Huckerby added, “they're touch and go at the minute, obviously the physios know more than me about that,” but was confident that Norwich had enough talent to cover their absence. “We've got young Jason Shackell who's been very, very good.”

Roy Keane is held in high regard by Huckerby. “He's untested as a manager, but I tell you something, he's probably on the best centre midfielder that's been around for the last 20 years. As a player I've played against him many times and he was always exception and if he can take that into management he'll be very successful.

Huckerby's comments from November last year, when Norwich were struggling in the Premiership, unfortunately, still ring true twelve months later in the Championship: “We do not have a divine right to win games or be top of the league but we expect ourselves to do better.” Do better they must, starting with three points at home against Sunderland. The Black Cats, however, have been given a kick by Keane and are on the prowl for fresh prey.

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