Dust-up settled before defeat

CHRIS WISE Gary Doherty insisted that there wasn't a problem in Norwich City dressing room after a bust-up between two of his colleagues hit the headlines.


Gary Doherty insisted yesterday that there wasn't a problem in Norwich City dressing room after a bust-up between two of his colleagues hit the headlines.

The Canaries confirmed yesterday that midfielders Youssef Safri and Dickson Etuhu were involved in an altercation at Colney Training Ground in the lead up to last Saturday's dismal 3-1 to defeat at Plymouth.

But any thoughts that disharmony in the camp had contributed to a result that prompted club owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones to publicly apologise to the fans were dismissed by Doherty, who witnessed the flare-up.

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“The atmosphere in the dressing room is good,” he said. “Obviously the first couple of days after the Plymouth game were difficult because we knew how badly we had performed.

“But we have put that behind us, drawn a line under it, and concentrated on preparing for the next one.”

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Doherty said he had seen countless similar flare-ups during his 10 years as a professional and hadn't given it another thought until he read about it in the media.

“I am surprised it has come out in the papers because these sort of things happen all the time at football clubs,” he said. “Because results haven't been going very well people have jumped on it.

“You want to win games and you want to win training sessions and sometimes it does boil over. That is what happened last Thursday - but it is not a problem.

“It's done and dusted and they are good friends now.”

Chief executive Neil Doncaster revealed yesterday that there had been “a reaction to a physical challenge” at Colney - rather than a fight on the coach after the game, as reported in one national newspaper.

The Sun quoted a 'Canaries insider' as claiming: “There has never been any love lost between Safri and Etuhu. They are always having a go at each other in training. But their feud boiled over on the coach. They were having a real go at each other.”

Responding to that report Doncaster released a statement which read: “There was a reaction to a physical challenge in training in the week leading up to the Plymouth Argyle game. It was between those two players. It was over in seconds.

“In a contact sport it is the sort of incident that happens in training around the country on a regular basis.

“Contrary to reports, there was absolutely no incident on the coach on the way back from Plymouth.”

Neither player was available for comment yesterday.

The news comes as another blow to City manager Nigel Worthington as he faces a two-match ultimatum from the club's majority shareholders to turn the club's season around. He is also sweating on the fitness of star performer Darren Huckerby ahead of Sunday's must-win game with Burnley with the flying frontman battling to shrug off a groin injury that has kept him on the sidelines for the past three weeks.

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