Smith's surprise at prolific Pukki
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Dean Smith is surprised just how good Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki is.
The Finn notched his fifth Premier League goal of the season with a thumping finish to salvage a point at Newcastle.
Pukki also scored the first City goal on the Smith era, in the recent home win over Southampton, to underline his pedigree as the Canaries’ master marksman.
“I knew was a good player. I probably didn't realise how good a player until you actually work with him,” said the Norwich boss. “His work rate, his quality in terms of his finishing, the quality of his runs, and how he sets the tempo for us. I've been really pleased with what we've got.
"He is setting the standard now for the others to follow.
“He needs help from others, in terms of scoring, but if you speak to Teemu you wouldn't know he was carrying that weight on his shoulders.
"He seems a real level headed, laid back guy who wants to work hard for the team. We know we cannot be overly reliant on just one goalscorer.
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"You look at the three best teams in the league at the moment and their goals being shared around.
"Liverpool have got (Sadio) Mane, Jota and (Mo) Salah all scoring quite freely.
“The players know that as well. We've spoken about it and that is why set pieces are so important. Grant (Hanley) scored in our first game against Southampton and if we can go and be a little bit more creative in attacking areas then we will get goals from other players.”
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The over-worked Pukki has been prolific in two Championship title wins, and started his last Premier League season with a bang, before his form tailed off in a weary injury-hit relegation campaign.
“He might be two years older but he has also had that experience already of playing in the Premier League for a full season,” said Smith. “He's got the experience now of another year in the Championship as well, where he's done really well. He understands his own body, but we will help him along the way.
"The set up here, sports science-wise, is really good to help players recover and understand where their bodies at, and the nutrition as well.
"We're helping him to manage himself but he's experienced enough now to know how to manage himself as well.”