It's same again for City

PUBLISHED: 07:50 18 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:34 14 September 2010

Nigel Worthington stressed the benefits of continuity as he looked ahead to his side's second away game of the season at Derby. The Norwich City manager has named an unchanged starting XI for each of the opening three games, in stark contrast to his Rams counterpart Billy Davies who has already used 20 players.

Nigel Worthington stressed the benefits of continuity yesterday as he looked ahead to his side's second away game of the season at Derby.

The Norwich City manager has named an unchanged starting XI for each of the opening three games, in stark contrast to his Rams counterpart Billy Davies who has already used 20 players.

Worthington has also named the same substitutes in the games against Leeds, Preston and Luton and although a minor injury to Peter Thorne might change all that at Pride Park the City boss is still delighted that the team is virtually picking itself at this early stage of the campaign.

“To name an unchanged side in four successive games would be very nice,” he commented. “In fact it's been the same 16 for the first three games. I can't remember that happening many times in the years I have been here, if at all.

“As I have said before continuity and stability within the group, where players get used to each other, is very, very important. We are enjoying what we are doing at the moment and to keep that group together, as near as damn it, would be very good.”

With everyone coming through last Saturday's epic encounter with Luton unscathed Worthington's only concern this week was that international demands might upset his plans. But Robert Earnshaw and Carl Robinson both came through Wales' 0-0 draw against Bulgaria on Tuesday with no problems - and the manager is assuming the same applies to Youssef Safri, who played for Morocco in a home friendly against Burkina Faso the following evening.

“I haven't had any phone calls from Morocco to say Youssef is not all right, so I am assuming he will be fine for Saturday,” he explained.

The only new doubt for the weekend is Thorne, who is carrying a groin injury.

“It's too early to say whether he will be fit for Saturday - we will give him as long as we can,” added Worthington, who would probably give fit-again Andy Hughes a place on the bench should the experienced frontman fail to make it.

Worthington will again be without the services of Ian Henderson (groin) and Rossi Jarvis (thigh) tomorrow. Both are making progress but not ready to play a game yet. Matthieu Louis-Jean is back in action after being ruled out for over nine months with a serious hamstring injury but will be continuing his rehabilitation in the reserves for the time being.

It remains to be seen if summer signing Lee Croft is now ready for a full game, after being substituted midway through the second half in each of first three appearances for the Canaries - but the manager is more than happy with his progress so far.

“Lee has played three 70 minutes in the first three games and considering where he was in pre-season when he joined us I am very pleased with him,” he said. “He has now got another week's work under his belt so we are getting up there gradually.”

Worthington needs no reminding that City's previous visit to Pride Park last December ended in tame surrender and a 2-0 defeat, but that game won't be on his mind tomorrow following two excellent wins in the space of five days.

“The performance at Derby last season is history, it's behind us,” he said. “This is a new game, a new season. There are some new people here and we are ready to go again.

“We have had three very good performances so far. Now we have got to keep it going. We certainly want to get a good result away from home to add to what we have done at Carrow Road. That would keep the pot boiling nicely.

“We lost out first away game, you can't get away from that - but at Leeds we did everything apart from finish the game off, taking our chances. What we need to do is go and reproduce the performance we put in at Elland Road - and then stick the ball in the back of the net. If we do that then we will stand a very good chance of winning the game.”

Striker Robert Earnshaw goes into the fixture in a rich vein of form, having scored in his previous two games and done everything but score in the opener at Leeds, but the manager believes there is still a lot more to come from the little Welshman.

“He has had a good start to the season but there is still a hell of a way to go,” he said. “If Rob goes on to score 30 odd goals and we get promoted then he will have had a sensational season. In the Championship he is very capable of doing just that. At the moment he is just ticking over nicely.

“The biggest thing for Earnie is that he also wants to prove himself in the Premiership - and hopefully he can do that here.”

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