Great to have star man back
DAVID CUFFLEY Striker Robert Earnshaw completed his first full match for 15 weeks - but drew a blank for the third time running against Norwich City's biggest rivals.
Striker Robert Earnshaw completed his first full match for 15 weeks - but drew a blank for the third time running against Norwich City's biggest rivals.
Earnshaw, who made his debut in the corresponding fixture against Ipswich last season, took another big step on the road to full recovery from a serious groin injury with his third outing in nine days.
He was preferred to 18-year-old Chris Martin in the starting line-up, but had only the odd half-chance to chalk up his first goal for the Canaries against Town.
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Said manager Peter Grant: “It is difficult. It was a big call for me to make. I just felt that because of the injuries I just needed that little bit of brightness. He has been looking really sharp. 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 with that wee edge we were going to need, he could give us that. The pleasing thing is he got through 90 minutes. I didn't really want to keep him on for 90 minutes.
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“I just felt at that stage in the game, late in the game, if a wee bit of a chance fell for us, if there is anybody better in the division than Earnie I've not 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.”
Grant admitted that a draw was probably a fair result in the end but argued: “I wouldn't have said that in the first half. I think we should have been out of sight in the first half. But when you are against good players and good teams they are always in the game and there's no doubt Jim (Magilton) would have gone in at half-time delighted to be only 1-0 down and get his troops back together.
“They broke well on the goal but with the ricochet off Shackell. He did excellently to get in there and get the block in, and it has rebounded to the only place it could have rebounded, and they scored.”