Dion: Hucks is City's very own Ronaldo
CHRIS LAKEY Dion Dublin believes Darren Huckerby is Norwich City's version of PFA player and young player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo. The Canaries veteran has seen Huckerby at close quarters, as a player at Coventry in the 90s and now as a team-mate at Carrow Road - and as runner-up to the flying winger in this season's player of the year awards.
Dion Dublin believes Darren Huckerby is Norwich City's version of PFA player and young player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Canaries veteran has seen Huckerby at close quarters, as a player at Coventry in the 90s and now as a team-mate at Carrow Road - and as runner-up to the flying winger in this season's player of the year awards.
“I think he is like a smaller version, in stature, of Ronaldo at Manchester United,” said Dublin. “When he gets the ball everyone expects something to happen, which is good, it is great to have as a player and when he is going forward at pace it is great to watch.
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“He has scored some superb goals for us and some very important goals. People may say he doesn't defend, but we have 10 other people do that.
“Let Hucks do what he does well, and that is get the ball, run at people and score goals. That's what he does, that why he is player of the year, and he deserves it.”
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A mark of Huckerby's standing among City fans is his record of never finishing outside of the top two for the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy, won last year by defender Gary Doherty. This year he beat off a strong challenge by Dublin, with central defender Jason Shackell taking third place - leaving 18-goal Robert Earnshaw outside the top three.
Manager Peter Grant went public with his criticism of Huckerby earlier in the season, but after Earnshaw's groin injury in January which kept him out for three months, Huckerby almost single-handedly kept the City machine running.
Before the January FA Cup win at Tamworth - Earnshaw's last match before his enforced absence - Huckerby had scored just three goals in 23 appearances. But a brace against the non-league side set the ball rolling and in the 19 games since that day he has scored eight times, taking his tally in all competitions to 13.
It's a contribution that earned praise from Grant.
“He has been fantastic,” he said. “He is a match winner. I have been critical of him at times, but he is a threat to the opposition. We have to make sure we have people who help Darren, when he is not having one of his best games that we have people who are going to produce and help.
“But he has been outstanding for us. When somebody gets that award after somebody else scores 18 goals missing three months of the season it shows how phenomenal Darren has been. His performances have been magnificent because he has put in an end product in the last three or four months. He has put an end product - he has either been creating chances or scoring and that's all you can ask for the type of player he is.”
Then criticism, says Grant, was constructive.
“Good players know - I am not telling him lies - if he is not creating chances and he is not scoring goals, for the type of player he is that's what people remember. He is exciting - exciting doing what? Nothing.
“He has carried us on his back, on big games he has performed. Sometimes it was flogging a dead horse, he has been carrying injuries at times. He is a fantastic pro and is getting his just rewards.”
Huckerb received his award before Saturday's match, with City groundsman Gary Kemp also presented with the Wickes Groundsman of the Year award for the Championship.