Give youngsters a chance - Eadie

Darren Eadie says the time has come for Nigel Worthington to blood Norwich City's stars of the future now that the Championship play-off dream is over bar the shouting.

Darren Eadie says the time has come for Nigel Worthington to blood Norwich City's stars of the future now that the Championship play-off dream is over bar the shouting.

The Canaries legend, a product of the club's youth set-up in the early 90s, says it's time to give the likes of Rossi Jarvis and Michael Spillane their big chance - and prepare for a new assault on promotion next season.

“Blood them while you can,” said Eadie. “It's the old adage, but if you're good enough you're old enough.

“There is nothing, realistically, to play for and it is time to give the lads a chance. There is no pressure and the fans would love to see the youngsters coming through.

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“Norwich City fans have always loved seeing the club's youth products playing in the first team.”

However, Eadie - who made his debut at the age of 18 in the first match of City's stunning UEFA Cup run of 1993 - did issue a word of caution.

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“The only problem is that if things don't go their way and they have problems at first team level, it can destroy a young professional's career,” he said. “You do have to be very careful that the timing is right and that they can cope.”

Canaries boss Nigel Worthington doesn't exactly have a dressing room overflowing with young talent, as Eadie acknowledged.

“Every club goes through a period when they bring some through and then there is a lull,” he said. “In my year there were five or six players out of 11 that ended up playing professionally and that is a heck of a lot. Nowadays, it's usually more like one or two each year.”

Eadie's career at Carrow Road lasted a little over six years, until, in December 1999 he was sold for £3m to Leicester, for whom he played just 40 league games before a knee injury forced his retirement in June, 2003, at the age of just 28.

It's Leicester at Carrow Road on Saturday, but it's not a case of divided loyalties for Eadie.

“It's got to be Norwich,” he laughed. “Although a few weeks ago I definitely would have had a foot in the other camp because Leicester were doing poorly and looking like relegation material. I was desperate for them to get some wins and now they've picked up and had a big reversal in fortune.”

Much of that has been due to a change of management, with Craig Levein sacked in January and replaced by Rob Kelly - but Eadie doesn't believe the time is right for similar changes at Carrow Road.

“Nigel Worthington certainly deserves to be given his chance to turn things around,” said Eadie. “You don't go sacking someone like that willy-nilly - but you know that if there is no as drastic upturn they will have to look at the situation. Maybe it would have been different while there was still a chance of a promotion push but now that's out of the question he deserves a chance to start again.”

The play-offs are a far-away dream, but Eadie says he understands why players and management alike cling to the last remaining hope for the season, no matter how dimly it shines.

“They're too far behind and they need to win all their matches and then need the teams above them to drop points, so they'll be building for next season,” said Eadie.

“I don't think any players would think of giving up until the fat lady sings, but in our heart of hearts we all know it's over.”

But Eadie does see good times ahead, particularly if Worthington can get the best out of January signing Rob Earnshaw - and that means playing to the Welsh international's strengths.

“I like Robert Earnshaw, you can see that when things go right he is a potent threat,” said Eadie. “But he needs the service, so he can get round the corners. He's getting much too much in the air at the moment and while he might win a few that's not what he's about.

“There is no point in judging him on what he has done so far. People expect miracles straight away but he hasn't had a lot of first team football and he's dropping down to the Championship where it's a different ball game - you can't do your flicks and all that in the Championship.

“It will take getting used to but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up as the league's top scorer next season.

“Next to him is Leon McKenzie who has been a breath of fresh air since he came back from injury, a player who works his socks off, and that's what the fans love. He'd be in my team every time because he lifts the spirits.”

An Earnshaw-McKenzie one-two on Saturday afternoon would do just fine.”

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