Croft hopes to keep Hucks out of action

Chris Lakey Lee Croft is enjoying playing football with a smile on his face - and keeping big pal Darren Huckerby out of the side.The Canaries winger did his claims for a starting place no harm at all with an excellent second-half showing at Barnsley on Saturday - and says the competition with Huckerby is getting the best out of him.

Chris Lakey

Lee Croft is enjoying playing football with a smile on his face - and keeping big pal Darren Huckerby out of the side.

The Canaries winger did his claims for a starting place no harm at all with an excellent second-half showing at Barnsley on Saturday - and says the competition with Huckerby is getting the best out of him.

Manager Glenn Roeder has opted for a one-winger-at-a-time policy, and in the last three games it's been Croft who has been given the nod.


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The result has been a marked improvement in performance, culminating with his stellar showing in Saturday's 3-1 win at Oakwell.

"The lads were saying the second half of that game was so enjoyable, it was such good football and such a joy to play in and I think it was similar at Crystal Palace when we played really well," he said. "It is really enjoyable at the moment and we just want to keep that going.

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"I'm enjoying my football. I think I have been playing well for the last two games - the Bury game wasn't the best, but that was a bad team performance.

"It's good competition for places and I know what a good player Hucks is - it is really good competition.

"You have to be playing at your best all the time, otherwise the gaffer will just put him in, and he knows that if he's playing he has to do well otherwise he'll take him out and put me in so it's healthier.

"When you know you have to be playing your best every single game otherwise you are not going to play it is good for your game because you have to be on top of it all the time."

The first meeting with Bury 10 days ago was less than satisfactory as far as City were concerned, with chances going begging before the League Two side went ahead, Gary Doherty earning a replay with a goal 10 minutes from time.

But the Canaries put that behind them on Saturday, when they turned on the style in the second half at Barnsley.

"It was important to put in a good performance, which we did in the second half on Saturday," Croft said. "It was another great result and we seem to be doing well in the league at the moment so we just need to carry that on, plus take that into the Cup and get as far as we can."

If there was a black mark for Croft it was the missed opportunity to put City 2-1 up on the break but he hit the woodwork - although his blushes were spared when goals by Mark Fotheringham and Dion Dublin sealed the points.

"I was devastated about that," he admitted. "I think you can see how happy I was when Fozzy (Fotheringham) scored - that was more relief really because I thought after I missed the chance which I should have put away that it could have been the winning goal. When Fozzy put it in and we scored a third there was a lot of relief in that."

A goal at Gigg Lane tonight would avoid a repeat - and make up for the missed chances in the first meeting.

"I don't think we underestimated them," insisted Croft. "We just weren't at the races. We started all right and should have got a few goals, but they didn't go in and they grew in confidence as the game went on.

"It's important we set out to put them on the back foot straight away."

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