Getting to know you time for new boys

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City's three new boys will get to know every blade of the Colney training ground pitches week this week as they attempt to gel into a starting line-up that so desperately needs an infusion of quality to lift it from the doldrums of the season.

CHRIS LAKEY

Norwich City's three new boys will get to know every blade of the Colney training ground pitches week this week as they attempt to gel into a starting line-up that so desperately needs an infusion of quality to lift it from the doldrums of the season.

Robert Earnshaw, Jonatan Johansson and Zesh Rehman were drafted into the line-up for yesterday's derby clash against Ipswich having been involved in just a couple of training session together.

It will take a lot more before they knit together, and performances against the old foe have to be judged alongside the mitigating circumstances: none of them has played regular first team football this season, so you can add lack of match fitness to lack of familiarity to team-mates.


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Of the three, most is expected of Earnshaw: for starters, he's committed his future to Norwich City while Johansson and Rehman are, as yet, only here to the end of the season, on loan from Charlton and Fulham respectively. Earnshaw also carries the not inconsiderable baggage of a £3.5m price tag and a weighty reputation as a goalscorer, that most valuable of assets.

Johansson was the one who made the biggest impression on his first start, scoring just after the half-hour mark with a nicely-taken lob, courtesy of Youssef Safri's precision pass - and then deflecting Jimmy Juan's free-kick past Robert Green for the Ipswich equaliser. He hit a post in the second half and after that it was almost inevitable that the visitors would score.

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However, the Swede should be reasonably satisfied with his debut, notwithstanding the final result, and it looks like there will be more to come.

More will be expected from Earnshaw who could, and probably should, have got his debut off to a dream start when he was clear down the left channel but, with only Lewis Price to beat, shot weakly at the Town keeper. Apart from that he had few sights of goal and will surely look back at Safri's pass for the City goal and wondered how regularly that type of ball will be falling at his feet.

Rehman was deployed alongside Gary Doherty in defence, but clearly has two sides to his game. On the defensive side, first impressions were good: he looked good in the air and not bad on the floor, while he looked to be able to read the game well. And his ventures into the opposition penalty area for set-pieces give City an alternative outlet to just slinging Doherty forward for every corner and free-kick.

Rehman had his chance of glory, too, scooping the ball over on the stroke of half-time after Safri's corner had caused confusion in the Ipswich penalty area.

All three in their known way had had their chance of derby day glory, but it was clearly not the day for dream debuts.

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