Gallacher goes from zero to hero

RICK WAGHORN New City hero Paul Gallacher is planting his feet firmly on the floor as he heads for crunch contract talks with Nigel Worthington this week.


New City hero Paul Gallacher is planting his feet firmly on the floor as he heads for crunch contract talks with Canary boss Nigel Worthington this week.

The two parties are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss 'What next?' for the 26-year-old Scottish international after an extraordinary 48-hours in which the one-time Norwich No3 keeper has gone from zero to hero on the back of Robert Green's exit with a tweaked ankle.

For if Gallacher's shock City debut in the 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday was good, yesterday's starring role in Norwich's extraordinary 3-2 victory over Queen's Park Rangers suddenly made this week's contract talks big, back page news.

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Indeed, but for Gallacher's stunning, second-half performance all the talk would have been of another potential nail in Worthington's managerial coffin as the home supporters once more unleashed their fury and frustration on the Norwich chief as the hapless Canaries found themselves 2-0 down to QPR.

Three goals in the final 12 minutes, including a brace for Robert Earnshaw, however, turned the contest on its head as City racked up their sixth, straight home success in typically infuriating fashion.

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“It's been fantastic - and it just goes to show how quickly things can change in football,” said Gallacher, as his world turns upside down over the course of the Easter weekend.

For the assumption was that after two years without a sniff of a first team chance and his contract up, Gallacher would simply follow injured No2 Darren Ward out of the door this summer.

Now, however, all bets are off with new opportunities likely to be knocking on the back of his show-stopping efforts this Easter - particularly if Green retruns from his World Cup adventures with a clutch of Premiership suitors in tow.

“I'm not getting too carried away - it's only been two games,” said Gallacher, clearly approaching tomorrow's talks with an open mind.

“The way that football is right now, if anyone offers you a permanent contract you've got to consider it.

“So I'm more than happy to sit down and speak with the manager. After that it's just a case of sitting down with my family and weighing up the pros and cons.

“Because of Robert's consistent form it has been very difficult for the likes of myself, Darren (Ward) and Joe (Lewis) to get an opportunity. And if we ever did manage to nudge Robert out of the way, then it was always going to be a case of trying to grab any opportunity when it came with both hands.

“And my wife and I have both really enjoyed our time down here. As I say, it's just a case of sitting down with the manager and hearing what he has to say.”

News of tomorrow's contract talks was broken by Worthington himself after yesterday's roller-coaster Rangers' clash in which Gallacher's stunning 88th minute save to deny a disbelieving Paul Furlong spared the manager another round of bitter, post-match protests - particularly once Earnshaw bundled home his sixth goal in 11 starts in the 90th minute to complete another remarkable turnaround.

“We need to sit down with Paul and see where the future lies,” said Worthington, after Green's injury in the warm-up against Wednesday suddenly thrust Gallacher into the limelight and found the previously unsung keeper stealing everyone's thunder - including bright new Academy prospect Michael Spillane who made his home debut yesterday before being withdrawn at half-time with a tight groin.

“Paul played very well against Sheffield Wednesday and that's all credit to him and the goalkeeping coaches that he could come in at short notice like that and have the mental focus to perform like that.

“He was also carrying an injury today and was due to have a late fitness test, but insisted he wanted to play - and that just goes to show the character of the man.”

As for the latest round of anti-Worthington feeling, the City boss simply saw it as part and parcel of the modern football beast. The two opposing camps are likely to remain firmly entrenched with opinions on what is and isn't a good passing performance no nearer to being united after a particularly dire opening hour where, for all their better possession, Norwich barely made a dent where it really counts - in the Rangers' box.

“That's part of football,” said Worthington, quizzed as to his reaction to the loud chorus of 'Worthy out!' that erupted amidst Rangers' second goal.

“It happens at a lot of other football grounds and you've just got to be strong. Yes, we've had an indifferent season after five good years, but it's been a great experience.

“All of it just makes you stronger, more resiliant and even more determined.”

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