Earnie absence taking its toll

CHRIS LAKEY Dion Dublin has cranked up the pressure on the Canaries by admitting that players are finding it hard to ignore the Robert Earnshaw effect.


Dion Dublin has cranked up the pressure on the Canaries by admitting that players are finding it hard to ignore the Robert Earnshaw effect.

City lost their biggest asset when leading scorer Earnshaw was ruled out for the rest of the season with a groin injury - and the veteran striker admits it's been a hard pill to swallow.

“It is a massive blow, it is something we have tried not to harp on about, but the undercurrent of Earnie being injured is massive,” said Dublin on the eve of today's FA Cup fourth round tie at Blackpool.

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“Earnie might not do anything for a whole game, but if you give him two or three chances he's going to take one or two and we don't have anyone else in the squad who can do that.

“That's why he has scored so many goals for his country and for Norwich City. And he's missed, he's missed sorely, but we know that we have to get on with it and look past Earnie now and try and find other players to score goals.”

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Dublin has been in regular touch with Earnshaw since the Welshman underwent surgery last week.

“I speak to him two or three times a week,” said Dublin. “He's okay, he is obviously down, which is what you would expect a player to be having been injured. And he has not been able to help us out, as we need him, because he's the goalscorer that we haven't got at the moment. The boys are keeping in touch with him trying to keep his chin up.”

In Earnshaw's absence, City boss Peter Grant will look at new signing Chris Brown, Dublin, possibly teenager Chris Martin, and his midfielders for the goals.

Dublin admits the pressure is on - and had a stark warning for anyone who fails to deliver.

“It's good,” he said. “We should be under more pressure to score goals. We are down as centre forwards, we have (Peter) Thorne as well and Darren Huckerby and Lee Croft. We are the ones now who are taking more of the limelight because Earnie is not playing in regards to goals and we should be under pressure to score goals.

“And if we don't score goals we don't deserve to play.”

Whether Dublin gets the chance to add to the brace he scored at Tamworth may depend on events in central defence, where Jason Shackell has been nursing an ankle injury for a fortnight.

Grant is concerned enough to leave a decision until the last minute, although Dublin is confident his team-mate will be fit, meaning he can concentrate on attacking duties.

“No doubt he will get over the injury like he always does and he will play and give a good performance as always,” said Dublin. “If he is struggling I will go in if the manager asks me to go in. Shacks will be okay, I think it is just a precautionary thing, making sure he is all right for the game is more important than getting two or three training sessions in.”

Dublin scored half of his 22 career FA Cup goals during his early years at Cambridge United - experiences which have stood him in good stead over the years.

“The FA Cup - it is just a case of getting through,” he said. “It is going to be difficult. I've played at Blackpool several times, had hard games there and if you are not at your game they are the kind of side that have one or two special players that can do something that you are not expecting, so we have to be on our guard. If we are not we could get punished.

“I know they have two or three who have something in their locker who, if we are not right all over the team, we will get punished and that is something we don't need to happen.

“It is not going right for us in the league at the moment, which we have to put right, which is, to me personally, more important. But the job is on Saturday and it's a hell of a job.”

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