Leon: I was willing to play

PUBLISHED: 13:43 21 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:35 14 September 2010

JONATHAN REDHEAD

Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie today refuted claims that his head was not right after failing to travel with the team to Derby for Saturday's match.

Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie today refuted claims that his head was not right after failing to travel with the team to Derby for Saturday's match.

The 28-year-old want-away striker insists he turned up for training last Friday prepared to play, but was told he would not be needed that day.

It was after that decision was taken that McKenzie decided it would not be right to travel with the rest of his City team-mates to Pride Park.

“I turned up in my tracksuit on Friday and I was ready to train, but Nigel Worthington told me he didn't want me to train,” said McKenzie, who has had at least two offers from Coventry turned down for his services.

“I decided then that it would not be the best idea if I travelled.”

McKenzie admits this is the toughest period of his footballing career but he is adamant he is doing it for all the right reasons.

“This is not a case of sticking two fingers up at the club. I love the fans and have enjoyed my time here, but I have to try and look after myself and my family - that is all this is about.

“I hope that people make up their own minds about the situation and I can say it is a bit deeper than some people are making out.”

Meanwhile, Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington has branded McKenzie's request not to travel to Derby as “hugely disappointing”.

The front man told Worthington on Friday he did not want to go to Pride Park as his “mind wasn't right” after City turned down two offers for his services from Coventry City.

After his surprise omission from City's squad for their hard-earned 0-0 draw at Derby on Saturday, Worthington revealed after the game that he did not want McKenzie around him or the squad if he was not in the right frame of mind.

But he also issued a warning to the 28-year-old that unless Coventry come up with the right money to take him away from Carrow Road, McKenzie would have to rediscover the right attitude after letting down “his team-mates, manager, football club and supporters.”

“There has been an offer come in from Coventry City, I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday- an offer that was flatly refused immediately,” Worthington said.

“They came back in with another one on Friday and again that was refused.

“The simple fact is, there's a price on Leon and if we get that price we'll sell him. And the reason for that because when I and Norwich City go to other clubs, people hold out and we're not exactly blessed with a lot of cash, so the more I get in the better it will help the football club and ourselves to get a player that we want to bring in.

“Until that is the case, Leon McKenzie is a Norwich City player. I spoke to him on Friday, he's not travelled. He didn't feel that his mind was right and preferred not to travel.

“As far as I'm concerned, I'm quite happy with that, because I don't want players around when they're not right. He's got to get his head right and play for Norwich city because we are paying his wages.”

But Worthington revealed that the Sky Blues are nowhere City's valuation of McKenzie with only ten days to go before the close of the transfer window.

The Northern Irishman also outlined his disappointment at his striker's choice to stay at home rather than travel to the East Midlands.

“That's something he's thought about and thought was right for him,” he said. “At the end of the day I don't want a player round me that's head is not right to go and do the job.

“And the players out here today have been tremendous and I feel for them a little bit because that dressing room has to be solid and for somebody to do what's happening at the moment, against their own teammates, manager, football club and the supporters, is hugely disappointing. Especially the way he's been looked after at this football club.

“I think it's disappointing with the situation but he's a Norwich City player, we will treat him like that with respect, and what we want in return, whilst he's here is a workrate, a commitment and a never-say-die attitude like he's had.

“He's going to have to turn it round himself because Norwich City are paying his wages.”

t Meanwhile, City have been linked with a move for West Ham's back up goalkeeper Jimmy Walker. The 33-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at Upton Park after Robert Green's switch from Carrow Road.

Newspaper reports claimed that manager Alan Pardew will let the former Walsall stopper, who has played 20 times for the Hammers move on once Green has recovered from the groin injury that wrecked his chances of going to the World Cup.

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