Earnie eager to be Wales action man

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries hitman Robert Earnshaw is back in the international fold after being called up for Wales duty today - and says he welcomes the competition in John Toshack's squad.


Canaries hitman Robert Earnshaw is back in the international fold after being called up for Wales duty today - and says he welcomes the competition in John Toshack's squad.

Toshack named Earnshaw in a 25-man party for the friendly against New Zealand at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground on May 26, and the vital Euro 2008 Championship qualifier against the Czech Republic at the Millennium Stadium on June 2.

But Earnshaw faces competition from the uncapped Southend striker Freddy Eastwood, who has been called up for the first time after proving his eligibility through his late grandfather, and fellow newcomer Daniel Nardiello.

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“The manager wants to get in as many players who can play for Wales as possible to make sure he has plenty of options,” said Earnshaw. “It's not a concern to me - obviously whoever is playing the best football gets in and will play.

“As long as we have got good options - the better the squad the better chance we have of doing well and winning.

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“As far as I am concerned, I just want to be playing. It's great to be back in the squad. I just enjoy playing football and after the injury and that it's just good to get back to it. The trouble is, I don't want my season to end now.”

Toshack has hinted that Earnshaw, Eastwood and Nardiello will all feature against New Zealand, particularly with Craig Bellamy involved in the Champions League final with Liverpool that week.

“Nardiello and Eastwood will have their chance because we will have people in the European final,” he said. “Robert Earnshaw too, I'm pleased he is back playing.”

Earnshaw's call-up completes a remarkable turnaround for City's 18-goal striker, who early in January was left in agony after a training ground injury which left him with torn groin muscles.

The 26-year-old was hardly able to walk properly for a month and the fears were that he wouldn't be able to pull on a City shirt until next season.

But Earnshaw's hard work in the gym has paid off and he made an surprise return to the first team scene at Leicester last month, scoring from the penalty spot as City won 2-1 at the Walkers Stadium.

Manager Peter Grant admitted he had prepared himself for Earnshaw to make a cameo appearance at Hillsborough this coming Sunday, when City complete their Championship programme against Sheffield Wednesday.

But his early return has clearly convinced Toshack that he is ready for action.

Toshack has also included former Canaries midfielder Carl Robinson, who is now with Toronto FC, although he is without the services of former Norwich keeper Darren Ward, who has quit international football.

Eastwood is currently receiving treatment on a back injury, but is confident he can cut it at international level.

“It's brilliant news for me and obviously I'm delighted to get the chance to play for my country,” he said. “The better the players around me the better I'll play. It is going to be a great experience. I was asked what nationalities I had in my background and my mum's side of the family is Welsh. It's great news and I'm hopeful I'll get my chance.

“I've scored a few goals this season, although I would have liked a few more. My target was 20 but I've missed a couple of games recently.

“I've got three weeks to get fit before we start training together so I think I'll be okay. I may even be fit for the Southampton game on Sunday and hopefully I'll get on the scoresheet there.”

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