Canaries get harsh warning from Worthy

Nigel Worthington has issued a blunt 'shape up or ship out' warning to his under-performing stars as he looked ahead to the series of 'dead rubbers' that will bring a bitterly disappointing season to its conclusion.

Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington issued a blunt 'shape up or ship out' warning to his under-performing stars yesterday as he looked ahead to the series of 'dead rubbers' that will bring a bitterly disappointing season to its conclusion.

The Canaries no longer have an outside chance of promotion to spur them on over the course of the next four games - but try suggesting there is nothing at stake to Worthington and you are likely to receive a short, sharp reply.

First and foremost the City boss wants to finish the current campaign on a high note and has demanded a good performance from his side when they take on relegation threatened Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough tomorrow afternoon.

But Worthington also has half an eye on next season and made it crystal clear what would be expected of his players when they arrived back from their summer break and started preparing for another stab at the Premiership.

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“The message is very clear to all my players as to what is required next season, it's as simple as that,” he said. “If they can do it then they will stay here, if they can't then they will have to find themselves another club.

“There is more to come from a lot of the players, if I am being honest.

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“What is required from them? I know and the players know - and it will stay that way.”

What is required in the short-term is an away victory, a point Worthington was keen to stress at yesterday's press conference. The Canaries haven't won on their travels since beating Leicester 1-0 on New Year's Eve, and have lost 12 of their 21 fixtures in total. That record will have to improve considerably if City are ever to stand a chance of going up.

Their manager wants to see a statement of intent at Hillsborough tomorrow and will clearly be furious if his team put in one of the no-shows that have been commonplace this season.

“We know the importance of the game as far as Sheffield Wednesday are concerned,” said Worthington, mindful of the fact that his former club are just five points clear of the Championship relegation zone.

“But it's very important for us as well. I just want to finish as high up the league as possible.

“We are looking for a good performance away from home. In fact we are demanding a good performance - and we will be looking to win the game.

“There haven't been enough good away performances, that's for sure, so there is a job to be done at the weekend.

“You have got to put your foundations down at home and then grind results out away from home.

“I think our home form has been pretty good. It could always be a bit better, but it could certainly have been a lot worse.

“Grinding results out away from home is something that we have not done on a regular basis.

“It's not rocket science - to gain promotion you need good home form and solid away form, and by that I mean picking up points on a regular basis. If you can average two points a game then you will be promoted.”

Tomorrow's game kicks off at the later time of 3.15pm as a mark of respect to the 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster on April 15, 1989. As someone who watched events unfold that day, former Wednesday stalwart Worthington understands more than most what the anniversary will mean to the people of Sheffield and Liverpool, but once respects have been paid he will expect his players to be fully focussed on the job in hand.

“We know all about the occasion, the fact that it is the anniversary of the disaster,” he said. “We'll be paying our respects with everyone else but after that it will be business as usual. Once that whistle goes we will be fully focussed on the game.

“I always enjoy going back there. It's a great club, with a lot wonderful people working for it. I had many happy years at Hillsborough and I have got a lot of good friends there. Hopefully I can get a good result there at the weekend.”

Worthington will clearly be keeping an eagle eye on all his players between now and the end of the season, with the bulk of them now tied to the club for at least one more campaign. He refused to confirm whether all the contracted stars would definitely be staying put, but was happy to reveal that he would be adding new players to his squad during the summer.

“As I have stated already some of the players who are out of contract at the end of the season will be leaving the club,” he said.

“Other players will be added to the group in the summer. We have identified some people - names and clubs you are not going to get. The transfer market tends to pick up in the last few days of June, early July - until then relax, and enjoy the World Cup!”

As for the possibility of more players moving on, he added: “It's football and the situation can change from day to day. You can never say never in this game.

“If Manchester United wanted one of my players for £5m-£10m that individual could be leaving the club. If I say a definite no now and then someone leaves for 'X' amount of pounds then people will say I was not telling the truth. You never know what is around the corner.”

On the subject of out-of-contract players Worthington has already confirmed that Paul McVeigh and Ryan Jarvis will be staying at Carrow Road, while Simon Charlton and Darren Ward will be seeking pastures new. That just leaves Paul Gallacher's future up in the air and the manager is keeping mum on his reserve goalkeeper at present.

“There's nothing I can say on that one at this moment in time - we'll let people know towards the end of the season,” he said.

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