It's kids' play to Doherty

PUBLISHED: 10:46 25 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:14 14 September 2010

Gary Doherty hasn't played against Andy Johnson for several years - but there's not much he doesn't know about the Crystal Palace hit-man. The Bedfordshire pair played in the same Luton side as teenagers, and Doherty isn't in the least bit surprised that his old acquaintance is now one of the most feared strikers in the country.

Gary Doherty hasn't played against Andy Johnson for several years - but there's not much he doesn't know about the Crystal Palace hit-man.

The Bedfordshire pair played in the same Luton side as teenagers, and Doherty isn't in the least bit surprised that his old acquaintance is now one of the most feared strikers in the country.

As he prepared to play against Johnson for the first time since joining the Canaries during the summer of 2004, the City defender spoke of his admiration for the Palace star - and his determination to keep him quiet at Selhurst Park this afternoon.

“AJ and I go way back,” he said. “He is from Bedford and I am from Luton and we played together at Luton Town when we were kids. You could see he had bags of potential even then, even though he was only 13 or 14 at the time.

“He was quick, he was a very good finisher in one on one situations and even then defenders couldn't afford to give him time and space in the box because he was lethal. I was just glad we were on the same side!

“He went of to Birmingham and did very well for himself - and he has just gone from strength to strength at Selhurst Park.

“He is a really good striker - his goals-per-game ratio speaks for itself.”

Doherty is looking forward to playing against Johnson for the first time since his Tottenham days - and is hoping to prevent him from scoring yet another goal against the Canaries, having netted equalisers in their three previous meetings.

“It will be the first time I have played against him since joining Norwich,” he said. “I missed the two games against Palace in the Premiership and I was also out of side when he played them at the beginning of this season.

“You always like to test yourself against the very best so I am looking forward to Saturday's game. It won't be easy, but we have defended well as a team in recent weeks and hopefully we can keep him quiet.”

He added: “At lot of the focus will be on AJ but we have got to remember that Crystal Palace are not a one man side. They have also got Dougie Freedman and Clinton Morrison, while the Wayne Andrews is also a big threat, so we will have to be on toes at the weekend, there's no doubt about that. But we have got some good strikers ourselves so hopefully we will be causing a few headaches for their defenders as well.”

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