Fresh start for Leon

City favourite Leon McKenzie today admitted he was desperate to make up for lost time - having spent the best part of six months languishing on the sidelines through injury.

City favourite Leon McKenzie today admitted he was desperate to make up for lost time - having spent the best part of six months languishing on the sidelines through injury.

The 28-year-old made his first start for the Canaries since late August when he faced Stoke City on Saturday - a return made all the sweeter by the fact he found the back of the net with the opening goal in a 2-1 win.

And now that McKenzie is firmly back in the first team picture, he's eager to continue his march along the goal trail with City's dwindling play-off hopes continue to hang by a very tenuous mathematical thread.

“That goal meant a lot to me,” said McKenzie, whose serious ankle injury and very public divorce after his ex-wife's decision to reveal all to Sunday tabloid newspaper, have both left their mark.

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“My babies were there watching and I had said to my boy Casey, who I call 'Champ', that I was going to try and score a goal for him and I did.

“It's been a hard, hard season and not just because of injuries. I've had a lot going on off the pitch and I'm just glad to be able to be back playing football and being the Leon McKenzie that I know I can be,” he added.

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McKenzie admits he surprised himself with his goalscoring performance, coming so soon after such a long lay-off, but he is now, at last, looking forward to being able to exert some influence on what happens on the pitch.

Instead of biting his nails to the quick, watching from the stands, the former Posh striker is desperate to help the Canaries finish as high up the table as possible and by so doing regain some much-needed pride and respect.

“The ankle is doing good and I've got no real problems at the moment,” said McKenzie, whose all-action style has been sorely missed this season. “I got a couple of knocks during the game but defenders seem to like giving me a bang now and then, but it's football and I'm used to that now.

“Everyone has been so supportive at the club and I've had my family and my friends around me - now I just want to play,” he added.

“We have got to look to win as many games as possible for the fans, for the manager and most importantly for ourselves. We have got to try to regain some pride and respect.

“Speaking from an individual point of view, I am never going to go out there half-hearted. It doesn't matter what else, what other silly business, is going on off the pitch, I will give everything. Some individuals may find it harder to do that than others.

“The one thing that I do, no matter what, is give 110 per cent when I am on that pitch. I will work for my team-mates.”

Clearly, staying fit for action also remains one of McKenzie's main priorities after missing the bulk of the season with two separate knocks on the right ankle.

He was ruled out for 3½ months after being injured in training at the beginning of September and then made just three appearances from the bench before being struck down again during City's home clash against Burnley just after Christmas.

He declared: “It's been a nightmare of a season, really, injury-wise for me. I just want to stay fit for the rest of the season for these last nine games and score a few more goals.

“I'm 28 years old now and I am still ambitious. I want to make the step up and I want to be playing in the Premiership again and I'll be doing everything I can to achieve that goal.”

It's very unlikely McKenzie will be in the Premiership with City next season, however, as a place in the play-offs remains a very distant prospect. City need to win their remaining nine games to finish on 76 points - one more than the total which saw them reach the play-offs four seasons ago.

“We had a win on Saturday and it's important that we now build on the back of that. It's going to be a tough trip to Leeds but I'm sure everybody will be up for it,” said McKenzie. “We have just got to go out and perform and give it our best. I look at Andy Hughes and see him working his heart out and I think that's what we have all got to do and I take encouragement from players like that.”

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