Duffy: We are not a one man outfit
DAVID CUFFLEY Taking the weight off Darren Huckerby's shoulders will be one of the keys to success for Norwich City this season - according to assistant boss Jim Duffy.
Taking the weight off Darren Huckerby's shoulders will be one of the keys to success for Norwich City this season - according to assistant boss Jim Duffy.
Star forward Huckerby made his first appearance since the end of last season when he played 55 minutes for City Reserves in their 4-0 victory over Luton in the Pontin's Holidays Combination at Carrow Road last night.
His return to action after weeks on the sidelines with a persistent groin injury is a boost for manager Peter Grant, but Duffy said the absence of the 2006-07 player of the season had forced his team-mates to cope without him.
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Said Duffy: "It's great to have a player of Darren's qualities. There is no bigger fan of him than me. I think he's a fantastic player.
"But it's important we learn to cope in matches and win matches when he's not available.
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"There was an awful lot of responsibility on Darren's shoulders last season, an unfair burden I think, and we are looking to share that burden. That's why we've brought players in so we have a strong squad and the difference is not quite as dramatic when he isn't there."
In 31-year-old Huckerby's absence, the Canaries collected four points from their first two Coca-Cola Championship games and booked their place in the Carling Cup second round, but Duffy said it was too soon to draw any conclusions about the season ahead.
He said: "We are pleased with the results. At the moment it's about building confidence and getting some results on the board. Performance is secondary.
"You're looking to try to get a good start. Unfortunately you are judged very, very quickly. You know if you don't get a couple of good results, it leaves you open to criticism, so it's important for everybody, the coaching staff and the players.
"We have to build on that confidence. It's only one week. It's very, very early and I think you need at least half a dozen games to see where we really are."
Duffy praised the way City's existing players and new signings had worked together over the past few weeks.
He said: "There has been a good spirit so far. We have made a lot of changes in the summer, about eight in and eight out, but the manager felt it was necessary and I don't think too many Norwich City fans would disagree.
"There has been a big turnover but it was something we felt was needed to give us a variety of options.
"Even at this early stage, Jimmy Smith has been injured, Darren has been injured and Mark Fotheringham has been injured, so straightaway areas where we feel we have got cover are affected. This is why we needed more strength in depth.
"We had to give ourselves more options. We respect the talents of the players we had but we didn't have enough strength in depth.
"We couldn't change things round last season because we didn't have the alternatives.
"It was good experience for a lot of young boys to make appearances in the first team but to be challenging even for a place in the top half you need experience. That's why we brought in people like Darel Russell and Jamie Cureton, who have experience of playing in the Championship.
"We felt as if we needed guys who knew the league, and we signed people like Julien Brellier and David Strihavka who could give us something different."
Saturday's trip to Hull, where City won 2-1 last season, promised to be a big test, said Duffy.
"Hull will be like any Championship side - very determined. It will be a very physical match. The vast majority of teams think they can do well in the Championship and it will be an extremely tough match.
"I don't think there's any game you can say will be easy."
Striker Cureton will know more than most about the opposition after the Tigers signed his former Colchester team-mates, defender Wayne Brown and striker Richard Garcia, during the summer.
The contest with Brown will be one to watch.
"They know each other, it will be a battle and it will add a little bit of spice to the game," said Duffy.
"Jamie doesn't have to be having a great game and no matter how tight you keep the reins on him, if you let him loose in the six-yard box he will score goals."