Earnie: We are the dark horses

CHRIS WISE Norwich City striker Robert Earnshaw believes his side could be the dark horses in the race for the play-offs - and is looking for them to take a giant stride towards their target this afternoon.


Norwich City striker Robert Earnshaw believes his side could be the dark horses in the race for the play-offs - and is looking for them to take a giant stride towards their target this afternoon.

The Canaries go into this afternoon's daunting trip to Leeds with three straight home victories behind them and have moved to the outer fringes of the Coca-Cola Championship promotion battle as a result.

They are currently seven points adrift of sixth-placed Preston and although the Deepdale outfit have the security of a couple of games in hand, Earnshaw reckons they will start to feel extremely nervous if City can pull off what would be a famous victory at Elland Road.

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“It's a massive game for us, that's for sure,” said the Welsh international.

“I looked at the table the other day and there are just seven points separating us from the final play-off place and that's not a bad position to be in, even though some of our rivals have got games in hand.

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“If you went on a run you could be right up there - and that's what we need to do. We must keep the pressure on the sides above us.

“A few weeks ago it looked as though we were well out of it, but we have won our last three homes and that has given us some hope.

“We are hovering just behind the play-off challengers and if we could win it would put massive pressure on them.

“We have done it quietly - but I should imagine people will stand up and take notice if we can win at Leeds and that is what we will be aiming to do.

“We've then got Sheffield United at home, which is another big game. If we could get a positive result in that one too I think a few of the teams who are currently in the top six would start to get a little bit nervous.”

It's obviously all ifs and buts at the moment and Earnshaw is well aware that the Canaries will have a big point to prove to their travelling supporters today after letting them down in spectacular fashion at Crystal Palace two weeks ago.

City players were making similar positive noises before that fixture, only to lose 4-1 after turning in a truly dismal performance - and the pint-sized frontman knows his side will have to back up their words with action this time around.

“Crystal Palace was just one of those games where nothing went right for us and everything went right for them,” he said. “Sometimes it happens like that and you hold your hands up and say 'they played well on the day and we didn't'. Then you forget about it and start focusing on the next one.

“I have never played at Elland Road before so it will be nice to cross that one off my list. But it doesn't really matter about me. It's about all the lads and how they perform on the day.

“Our away form lately hasn't been great and we need to tighten that up, we know that. Leeds are doing well so it will be equally tough, if not tougher. But we will be ready for the challenge, don't worry about that, and if we go there and play to our full ability then we will be fine.”

Much will be expected of Earnshaw at Elland Road after a low-key start to his career with the Canaries. He has scored twice in six appearances, but both those goals came against a 10-man Brighton side who were chasing the game, and he is well aware that he has yet to prove himself to the Norwich supporters.

That said, he insists he is satisfied with his early form after a long spell out of the first team picture at his previous club West Bromwich Albion.

“Getting there fitness-wise was my main target when I arrived because I hadn't played much football,” he said. “After playing six games it's certainly picking up.

“It's a long time since I played so many games in such a short space of time and that can only be good for me. I am happy with my fitness and hopefully everything will start to flow now.

“I am happy enough with the way I have been playing - it would just be nice to get more chances.

“I scored a couple of goals against Brighton, but it goes without saying that I would like a few more. That's what strikers are there to do - stick the ball in the back of the net.

“It's not easy when you are living out of a hotel and I wouldn't say I have settled properly yet, but I'm getting there.

“I've enjoyed the football. The boys have been great. I am always having a laugh with them and they have made me feel very welcome. I just can't wait to get a place around here now.

“I am very glad I'm here and I am really enjoying myself.”

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