Duffy confident of Czech guarantee

DAVID CUFFLEY Czech striker David Strihavka faces something of a culture shock when he gets his first taste of Championship football - but Norwich City believe he is more than up to the task.


Czech striker David Strihavka faces something of a culture shock when he gets his first taste of Championship football - but Norwich City believe he is more than up to the task.

The 24-year-old forward trained with the Canaries at Colney yesterday and is set to sign a four-year deal before the end of the week.

Strihavka was the leading scorer in the Czech top flight last season with 13 goals in 28 games for Banik Ostrava. It was a record that attracted City's attention earlier this year and the management team had him watched several times, with assistant boss Jim Duffy running the rule over the player on one of his Eastern European missions.

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And Duffy backs Strihavka to make the transition from the Czech premier league - or Gambrinus Liga - with just 16 teams, to the more demanding schedule of the Championship in 2007-08.

“It was before the end of the season that he was a player who was brought to our attention and we tried to get him watched a couple of times - early on and then towards the end of their season,” said Duffy.

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“I was over there in Prague and Alan Wood, the chief scout, went to see him as well. We had him checked out. And I have a stack of DVDs in front of me.

“We feel he's a good acquisition. He's definitely improved over the last couple of years and all you can hope for is that he will continue to do that here.

“You can never quite gauge how they will adapt because the Championship is very physical and demanding.

“Over there they play 30 matches and at least seven or eight are not tough at all. The tempo of the game is slower, there is a limited area of the pitch that you have to operate in as a striker whereas here you have to be able to play all over the pitch.

“In the Championship there are 46 matches and every single one is tough. That's part of the reason why we try to get English or British players because they know the league.”

But Duffy said market prices forced clubs to spread the net and City, who last week snapped up French midfielder Julen Brellier, could benefit from a careful choice of overseas players.

He said: “You don't want a team full of foreign players because Norwich fans don't want that but we can have a sensible mixture.

“David is six feet two, he has good touch, and pace for a big guy. He gives us different alternatives.

“Last season, when we had Robert Earnshaw and Chris Brown injured, Chris Martin had to carry that burden at 18 years of age. He will continue to develop and I hope everyone benefits from the competition.

“We have Chris Martin and Chris Brown, we still have Dion Dublin and now we have brought Jamie Cureton in, so I think from that point of view we have a lot of options.”

Strihavka will become manager Peter Grant's sixth signing of the close season so far, joining full-back Jon Otsemobor, goalkeeper Matthew Gilks, striker Cureton, midfielder Brellier and goalkeeper David Marshall at Carrow Road.

“He's a boy we've been looking at for a while,” said Grant. “We've watched him for a time and knew he'd been down at Watford on trial last season where he scored two goals in his only game. At the time we thought there was Premiership interest, but we have kept an eye on him and he's different to what we have.

“He's 6ft 3in, he's technically good as you expect from European players and he scores goals. He will give us a different dimension when he's on the pitch.”

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