Grant's up for the cup

City boss Peter Grant has pledged to send his strongest possible team into Carling Cup action at Port Vale tomorrow night - insisting: “We're in it to win it.

City boss Peter Grant has pledged to send his strongest possible team into Carling Cup action at Port Vale tomorrow night - insisting: “We're in it to win it.”

After the Canaries beat Coca-Cola Championship leaders Cardiff City 1-0 at Carrow Road in his first home game as manager, Grant warned there would be no resting key players for the third round tie at Vale Park (7.45pm).

He said: “I want to win the Carling Cup - nothing else. We're not good enough to chop and change. The only reason players will be out of the team is if they're not fit. Everything else stays the same. We're in it to win it. That's the way I'll go about every game because if I start chopping and changing now, people will think I only talk about winning.”

Grant's predecessor, Nigel Worthington, frequently used the competition to rest regular first-choice men and blood youngsters and fringe players.

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But the new boss, with four appearances at the Millennium Stadium under his belt with Bournemouth and West Ham in the past four years, has his sights on another trip to Cardiff in February.

He said: “Winning breeds confidence, winning makes your players understand what's expected of them. I am no different. In five or six games you could win it. We proved it with West Ham last year when we got to the final of the FA Cup when people didn't think we could get there. All you need is a little bit of luck along the road. I'm going to pick the strongest team that's available to me because I want to win every game.”

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One man certain of a recall at Port Vale is goalkeeper Paul Gallacher, dropped for the first time this season against Cardiff in favour of on-loan Jamie Ashdown, who is not available tomorrow night.

Grant heaped praise on 27-year-old Scotland international Gallacher, however, for the way he responded to being left out - by helping Portsmouth's Ashdown prepare for Saturday's match despite his own disappointment.

Said Grant: “To be fair to Paul Gallacher, he was magnificent - and his training after it - because I actually gave him the opportunity not to train on Friday because of how disappointed he was.

“But his attitude to help Jamie understand what was expected of his back four was fabulous and it's great credit to him. I'll have a talk with him during the week because he deserves special praise. Paul will be back in on Tuesday, so it's another chance.”

Grant said it was a “massive decision” to change his goalkeeper.

He said: “Paul kept a clean sheet the other day, but I just felt Jamie would have the experience of playing in the Premier League, the experience of getting promotion and an understanding of what it's like to be in the Championship.

“But I thought he didn't play particularly well, or do all the things I talk about - commanding his area, his distribution. I thought he let us down on that today so it was disappointing, but it was a big call. But if I leave it too late and end up losing a game before I change, then it's too late.

“I've got to change it when I think things are not going well because I look at things the day before the game and I know there's a lot of things that let us down. If we don't get better at them, we'll struggle.

“I wasn't going to be bringing Jamie in and be sitting on the side of the park thinking 'I hope Paul Gallacher makes a mistake, so Jamie can get in'. I didn't want Paul to be thinking that, so it was a big decision I had to make and it's probably the first decision I've had to make against a player who hasn't done anything wrong. That was a call I made and thankfully we got a clean sheet out of it, albeit with a little bit of luck.”

Grant further explained the change by arguing: “I just felt there's a nervousness maybe at home games, not just with Paul but with the back four and I just felt I wanted somebody coming in there who's played under that pressure and been where I want to be, which is to get back in the Premier League. I just felt with the nervousness that's been about since the last game, it was a position where I couldn't afford any nerves.

“But Jamie looked a bit nervous, to be perfectly honest with you, and that disappointed me a wee bit. Maybe that's a bit unfair on him because he only arrived on Friday and had one training session.”

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