Let's show rivals we mean business

PUBLISHED: 11:43 24 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:18 14 September 2010

Defender Gary Doherty is hoping Norwich City use tonight's Coca-Cola Championship game against strugglers Burnley (7.45pm) as a way of firing a warning shot across the bows of their fellow promotion contenders.

Defender Gary Doherty is hoping Norwich City use tonight's Coca-Cola Championship game against strugglers Burnley (7.45pm) as a way of firing a warning shot across the bows of their fellow promotion contenders.

The Canaries are currently seven points behind sixth-placed Preston and to be in with a realistic chance of making the play-offs - which would represent an amazing turnaround in fortunes - they may have to win all seven of their remaining seven matches, starting against the Clarets at Turf Moor.

A win over Sheffield United at the weekend strengthened their chances and was their fourth on the trot at home. It was also the first match in some time without any anti-Nigel Worthington chants.

“We're top of the form table at the moment and everything is going very well. We're back in form again and that's what counts. Things have really changed around for us, especially since the Crystal Palace game, and it needed to,” said Doherty, whose man of the match performances this season make him one of the front-runners for the player of the season award.

“If we can put in a good performance against Burnley on the TV it might send out a signal to the rest of the league watching that we mean business.”

Jason Shackell, in particular, and Doherty were outstanding as the Blades threw everything at Norwich in a desperate, but ultimately fruitless bid to take something from the game. One last-ditch tackle by Shackell in the final seconds, to deny Ade Akinbiyi right in front of goal, typified the home team's defiance.

It's the resolute nature of the Canaries' defence, which was also in evidence at Elland Road the week before in the 2-2 draw with Leeds, that is helping to prop up this late surge and Doherty is very pleased with the way his fledgling partnership with Shackell has gone so far.

“We have played well together for the last four games and if it hadn't been for that late goal at Leeds it would have been three wins from three,” he said.

“Hopefully there are signs of a good partnership and we are building on the understanding we have the more games we play together.”

He added: “I am pleased with my form this season but I am not thinking about any awards at the moment. Don't get me wrong, it would be very nice to be recognised by the fans for my efforts this season, but I am fully focused on doing well for the team. That's the most important thing and anything on top of that is a bonus.”

On paper, Doherty and Shackell could expect to have a relatively easy time of it tonight as Burnley haven't scored in 450 minutes of football and have won only one game in their last 14, but the Republic of Ireland international is not taking anything for granted.

“Night games are never the easiest. Burnley are a tough team and it will be a tough game. They have brought in some new faces in the last week or so and will be up for this match,” said the 26-year-old.

“They will be fighting tooth and nail to avoid getting caught up in a relegation scrap and we are going for the play-offs so there's still a lot riding on this game for both teams.”

Doherty also revealed how there had been a change in the mood around Colney since the Canaries have become the form team in the league, having taken 14 points from their last seven games.

“There is a much more buoyant atmosphere around Colney at the moment and that comes from winning games,” he said. “Everybody is far more confident and I think that you can see that in our play. We are passing the ball around well at times and it's paying off.

“The last couple of games have seen a switch in formations with Earnie coming back in for the Sheffield United game and both times they have worked. It's down to the manager what we will play but, rest assured, the players will be ready to deliver whatever.

“We have a clear goal and we know what we have got to do to achieve that goal, which makes things very simple in one way, but clearly it's not going to be easy.”

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