Dublin: I'm up for challenge
DAVID CUFFLEY Dion Dublin has no desire to take a back seat as Norwich City prepare for the first of three tough away matches in the space of eight days. The Canaries face Charlton Athletic in the Coca-Cola Championship at The Valley, with the 38-year-old as eager as ever to keep his place.
Dion Dublin has no desire to take a back seat as Norwich City prepare for the first of three tough away matches in the space of eight days.
The Canaries face Charlton Athletic in the Coca-Cola Championship at The Valley tonight (8pm), with the 38-year-old as eager as ever to keep his place.
Manager Peter Grant may have the option of recalling skipper Jason Shackell, who has missed two matches with ankle ligament damage, but Dublin - who deputised as captain and centre-half against Cardiff and Crystal Palace - is happy to carry on against Alan Pardew's men this evening. Squad rotation is not for him.
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Said Dublin: “He can rest everybody else. I'm happy to play, to be honest. That's his decision. The gaffer's got decisions to make and I'm sure he'll make the right ones to play against Charlton.”
He said he relished the chance to lead the side.
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“I've enjoyed it. I like the responsibility, I like the pressure. I like having to get results and I think the boys are enjoying it.”
But with trips to Wolves on Saturday and Manchester City in the Carling Cup next Tuesday, the veteran admitted it was a testing schedule.
Dublin said: “It just gets harder. We play Charlton, then we go to Wolves. Then we've got a Premier League team the following week, so it's not easy. But that's our job, that's what we do. We have to peak at the right times and we are now preparing ourselves to peak tonight.
“I've played at Charlton a few times before with other clubs. They do tend to be in your face. You don't really get a lot of time to play the game, get your head up and pass, so we have to be on our game again.
“We have to be consistent again by getting something there, whether it be a point. If we get a win, brilliant. I'd be happy with a point going to Charlton, to be very honest with you. It might sound negative but it's real. We shall see. It's going to be a very important game and interesting game.”
While a draw would satisfy Dublin tonight, he believes a positive approach is the best way to achieve it.
“Personally, I'm always one for attacking. As an attacking person, I'd always rather attack a team and see what happens from then on,” he said.
“If you go one down, then you've gone one down playing attacking football. I think if you go there to be negative and go 1-0 down, you've got to go with plan B. I think you should stick with plan A and go for it. That's the way I would manage.”
Dublin said Saturday's 1-0 win over Palace had put him in a much happier mood on Sunday morning.
He said: “Just the points make it a little bit easier to wake up the following morning and look at the table. It's so much more pleasing. Again, it wasn't a brilliant performance, but if we can perform like that and nick wins or nick draws then we'll be happy with that. I thought the boys worked very hard and deserved it.”
Substitute David Strihavka's winning goal, from Simon Lappin's corner, owed much to Dublin's well-judged header, which presented the Czech striker with the chance.
“I was just trying to lose my marker, really, just telling Dave where to go and where I was going to go. And it worked, just for once, on the day.
“There are reminders on set pieces and stuff like that, maybe because he didn't start the game. He might not know where the player he came on for went, so I just have to remind him and let him know. I'm sure the other players are doing that as well, but I enjoy doing it and I like the responsibility of doing it.”
Dublin said the return of Darren Huckerby against Palace had given City a “massive boost” and added to their set-piece potential.
“Hucks can take good corners, but Simon's got a good left foot and if we can get some quality in the box, we've got a big enough squad in stature and size and build to capitalise on good quality. I was fortunate enough just to head it back into an area where David was and David scored.”
For Grant, tonight's match pits him against his former West Ham managerial ally, Alan Pardew.
Grant, who was Pardew's assistant at Upton Park for two years, nine months, said: “If somebody had said a year ago, when the two of us were working together at West Ham, that we would be in different dug-outs as managers of different clubs, that would have come as a surprise.
“I had just signed a five-year contract, Alan had just signed a five-year contract, so to say 10 months down the line we would be in opposite dug-outs as managers against each other, I don't think anybody would have foreseen that, especially after the Premier League season we had had, and getting to the FA Cup final. That's how quickly football changes.”