Charlton to provide real test of quality

Norwich City boss Glenn Roeder's Christmas message will strike a familiar chord with his improving players in this afernoon's latest Championship test against Charlton.

Norwich City boss Glenn Roeder's Christmas message will strike a familiar chord with his improving players in this afernoon's latest Championship test against Charlton.

Roeder wants to serve up an encore from City's hard-fought home win over Sheffield United last time out at Carrow Road.

The Canaries' have since emerged unscathed from battles at Colchester and Scunthorpe - but Roeder forecasts a different challenge awaits against another of the recently relegated top- flight sides.

"It's an opportunity for our players to show we can compete with lads who were in the Premiership last year," he said. "We expect another tough game like the Sheffield United one. Alan Pardew is doing an excellent job. He's been fortunate in that only Darren Bent was sold off in the summer. Everyone else left has experience of Premiership football.

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"We're on our own patch in front of a big, enthusiastic crowd that are starting to believe we can do what they thought we couldn't a couple of months ago. If we can give them a performance then we can pick up another three points - which would be terrific."

Roeder expects the Valiants' clash will bear little resemblance to his men's war of attrition at Glanford Park.

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"We'll enjoy playing that sort of game more because both sides like to get the ball down," he said. "Charlton also want to pass the ball and we certainly do so it should be a totally different type of game. We don't want to be hurried into hitting long balls from the back like we were at Scunthorpe. It was the type of game where our strikers had to work so hard at pressing and trying to close people down.

"I feel like we've beaten some good sides at home this season so everyone is looking forward to facing a team who at the start of the season had ambitions to get straight back up."

Roeder expects to select from an unchanged squad as he bids to maintain City's excellent recent run.

"We've got a few bumps, bruises and knocks - minor things but nothing we feel will stop the boys playing if selected," he said. "We just want to keep the momentum going. When I came to the club not so long ago we were on eight points and a few games away. We needed snookers, because we were in danger of getting cut adrift.

"To finish on 25 points from 23 games is an amazing effort from the lads. I thought it was possible but would take a mammoth effort. I could see, when I came in, the players were downbeat and lacking in confidence.

"That was one of the reasons I was given this superb opportunity - my record of bringing teams up from situations that look hopeless."

Roeder is now confident the club can look to 2008 with renewed optimism.

"We're going in the right direction but there is a long, long way to go," he said. "From the results you can see we've had a great run and we've got our heads above water. We can't afford any slips because the start was so poor. Eight points after 11 or 12 games meant we needed to perform miracles.

"To get 25 points by halfway gives us great hope and confidence to push on. The key now is the quality of the next batch and wave of players we want to bring in, in January."

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