Grant hails Etuhu and Hughes' spirit
Canaries boss Peter Grant reserved special praise for goal scorer Dickson Etuhu and Andy Hughes after Sunday's derby clash. Etuhu took home the sponsor's champagne with a man of the match performance in midfield, while Hughes had the crowd singing his name after arguably his best performance in a City shirt.
By CHRIS LAKEY
Canaries boss Peter Grant reserved special praise for goal scorer Dickson Etuhu and Andy Hughes after yesterday's derby clash.
Etuhu took home the sponsor's champagne with a man of the match performance in midfield, while Hughes had the crowd singing his name after arguably his best performance in a City shirt.
It was Etuhu, controlling midfield in the absence of Youssef Safri, who set the ball rolling with City's goal on five minutes, getting ahead of Gavin Williams to head home Darren Huckerby's cross from close range - a tactic that Grant believes Etuhu is mastering.
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“He has been terrific for us,” Grant said. “He's got in the box, but he is getting in there with a purpose now. He's getting in there not hoping to score, he's getting in there believing he's going to score and he probably could have had two others.
“But great credit to the big man, I thought he was a colossus today for us. Sometimes I thought he was playing the middle of the pitch himself. He has been outstanding for us and he has just got to maintain that.”
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Hughes, like Etuhu, has sometimes felt the sharp end of the fans frustrations, but has made the right back position his own.
“Andy has been great for us, he has been terrific, because he gives you that drive and determination to succeed and you can't bottle that, that's a wonderful thing,” said Grant.
“He frustrates you with other things he does when he's not in possession of the ball, but for his attitude you would give him 100 out of 100 and that is the one thing you demand from all your players, that commitment, that drive, that determination.
“But also we need to add to ours the thought process. To play football, everybody on parks can play football, the best players play the game the proper way and think about the game as things are happening and I didn't think they did that well enough, especially in the second period. We changed the ball over too often. But if you can bottle what Andy Hughes has got and give it to everybody else about the club you won't go far wrong.”
Grant's injury problems resolved themselves to some extent, with the team sheet revealing something akin to a senior line-up, although it was clearly a split decision to give Robert Earnshaw his first start since the FA Cup win at Tamworth in the first week of January - and then to leave him on for the full 90 minutes.
“It was a big call for me to make,” admitted Grant. “I just felt that because of the injuries I just needed that little bit of brightness. He has been looking really sharp. It is one of those ones when you'd be scratching your head, but because I had so many injuries to the last moment I had to leave it to the day, see how he trained yesterday - and he trained very well.
“I just felt that maybe that wee edge we were going to need, he could give us. The pleasing thing is he got through 90 minutes. I didn't really want to keep him on for 90 minutes, I just felt at that stage in the game, late in the game, I felt if there was a wee bit of a chance fall for us and if there is anybody in the division better than Earnie I haven't seen him.
“It is great that he has got his 90 minutes under his belt but he knows he has a little bit to do with his sharpness, there is no doubt about that.”
However, Grant admitted that the lack of fitness among his squad played a part in a match in which City dominated for 45 minutes but then allowed Ipswich to fight back and grab a deserved equaliser.
“We made too many wrong choices and we changed the ball over too often in that period and I think that told in the end when the legs looked to have gone a little bit, especially in the boys who have been struggling with injuries,” Grant added. “So when you are doing that in a game like that it always gives the opposition a chance to get a foothold back in the game and I thought in the second half they got that.”