Doherty is ready for war

JONATHAN REDHEAD Norwich City centre back Gary Doherty has warned his team mates to be prepared for a rough and ready, physical encounter against Stoke City tomorrow - but says the Canaries will be up for the battle.


Norwich City centre back Gary Doherty has warned his team mates to be prepared for a rough and ready, physical encounter against Stoke City tomorrow - but says the Canaries will be up for the battle.

The Irish international is still carrying the scars from a tough test against Port Vale's twin six feet plus strikers Leon Constantine and Akpo Sodje in Tuesday's Carling Cup defeat.

Doherty was forced into the dressing room for treatment during the game for a deep cut on the bridge of his nose and returned to the pitch wearing the number 50 shirt after his was covered in blood.

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But although the scars from Tuesday are still visible, the 26-year-old is ready for another tough time against Tony Pulis' physically imposing Potters.

With the likes of the tall Ricardo Fuller and Vincent Pericard likely to start up front against City and big men like Michael Duberry and Clint Hill coming forward for set plays, Doherty and fellow defenders Jason Shackell, Adam Drury and Jurgen Colin will be severely tested. And Doherty is aware of the threat the Britannia Stadium outfit pose.

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“They've got a few big boys up front and dotted around the pitch they've got a good size about so they're obviously going to be a threat, from set pieces,” he said.

“They're probably going to look forward quite early on in the game. So it's something we've got to be prepared for and be ready for.

“Stoke will be like the Derby game we went to. They're a strong outfit and like I said got a few big guys up front and are going to get it forward quite early on and have obviously got the likes of (Lee) Hendrie, the flair players so they've got a good mix.

“But we've got to adapt, we've got to stand strong and I'm sure if we do we can get a good result.”

However, the centre back said a run of three clean sheets under new manager Peter Grant and a recent away win at Birmingham means City can expect a positive result from their second journey to the Potteries in a matter of days.

“Yeah, we are pretty confident,” he said. “We've looked stronger as a unit and that's the important thing. We've got a couple of injuries so we don't really know what the team is until the gaffer names it. I'm sure we're going to be strong enough and hopefully adapt to Stoke's game.

“I think we were the first team to win at Birmingham so that's obviously going to give us a big boost to go away from home.

“We put on a good performance at Derby and Leeds. Then at Plymouth we were dreadful so people don't know which Norwich City's going to turn up on their travels.

“But hopefully come Saturday, it'll be the good Norwich City that are strong defensively and hopefully get a couple of goals.”

Despite the recent turnaround in form, the likeable Doherty says he is not sure what the key to City's new found defensive stability really is.

“I think it's probably where we were at at the start of the season for the first five or six games, where we were looking quite solid defensively. Then we went through a shocking period of goals just flying in left, right and centre. I think we're back to where we were.

“Obviously that's great for the rest of the team as we know we only need a couple of goals now. But we've just got to keep it going, because like I say, Stoke's going to be a powerful team and it's going to be difficult Saturday, but we can go into it quite confident.

It's all around the park. All the lads are working really hard at the minute. And that's something we've got to keep going if we want to get out of this league. Ninety per cent of this league, to get out of it, is all about hard work and hopefully if we can keep doing that we can get out of the league.”

Meanwhile, Doherty is pleased with his own form after overcoming a difficult personal period that coincided with the final few difficult games of Nigel Worthington's reign.

“Obviously, I had the two nightmares at Plymouth and Burnley which was disappointing from my point of view but I think I've got back to quite decent form that I think I showed at the start of the season and I'm happy with that,” he said.

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