'History' will give Earnie goals

CHRIS WISE Nigel Worthington is backing Robert Earnshaw to come good after a low-key start to his Carrow Road career.


Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington is backing Robert Earnshaw to come good after a low-key start to his Carrow Road career.

Since joining the Canaries in a potential £3.5m deal the Welsh international has scored just twice in six games, with both goals coming at the end of the 3-0 home victory over Brighton when the visitors had left themselves short at the back.

Earnshaw has put in plenty of hard work for the Canary cause since then but has failed to add to his tally - and hasn't really looked like scoring in his previous two outings against Crystal Palace and Stoke, with efforts on target being in distinctly short supply.

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Fans hoping for an immediate return from the diminutive frontman have been left disappointed, but Worthington remains more than satisfied with his progress so far, and is convinced the goals will start flowing on a regular basis once he has settled into his new surroundings.

Having scored 126 times in 265 games at club level Earnshaw clearly knows where the back of the net is and the City boss declared: “He'll score goals for us - his history proves that.

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“Wayne Rooney went through a spell when he couldn't hit the back of the net - it happens with all strikers.

“What people should bear in mind is that Robert hasn't played a lot of first team football this season. Getting that sharpness back takes time - and he is still adjusting to the challenge of regular first team football.”

Worthington would clearly like to see his new frontman getting in a few more efforts on goal, starting in tomorrow's daunting showdown with Leeds United at Elland Road. But he is happy with Earnshaw's contribution so far and it's easy to see why, with the Canaries having taken a respectable 10 points from a possible 18 since his arrival at the end of the January transfer window.

“I think it's maybe a little bit harder from a striker's point of view because you are measured on goals - people don't look at your work-rate and what else you do for the team,” he said. “I always think that is a bit unfair and overall I have been very pleased with him.

“I think he is settling in quite nicely. He has got his two goals and worked hard for the team. But he has not had too many chances, to be fair. As far as that is concerned a little bit might have to come from him and a little bit might have to come from the rest of the team. We have got to try and help that situation.”

Earnshaw looks certain to be linining up alongside Leon McKenzie tomorrow afternoon, with Worthington having abandoned his usual ploy of playing a target man for the time being.

The City manager had high hopes for the more traditional partnership of Earnshaw and Peter Thorne, which flourished at Cardiff, but when that failed to produce the goods he was happy to make a change - and feels the early signings are encouraging.

“I thought the partnership with McKenzie worked all right against Stoke - bearing in mind it was their first game together I was very pleased,” he said. “Just like Robert, Leon worked very hard and got his just desserts with a very well taken goal. It's a case of repeating that on a regular basis.

“What Leon gives you is pure enthusiasm, great energy and a desire to work. He is a favourite with the fans because of that and rightly so. I think that is infectious as regards other players. Every club needs people like that.

“You couldn't call Leon a target-man. He would like to play alongside a big striker, as would Robert Earnshaw. It's about getting them working together as a pair and, as I said, I thought they did well last weekend.

“There's also Jonatan Johansson who is desperate to play up the middle so competition is healthy at the moment.”

Worthington is certain to make at least one change to a winning side at Elland Road - and there could be two.

The manager confirmed yesterday that Adam Drury would replace Simon Charlton at left-back, after missing the Stoke game through suspension, while Youssef Safri could also return to the side after making a good recovery from the hip injury that kept him out last weekend.

The Moroccan midfielder is still officially rated doubtful for the Leeds game, but it would be a something of a surprise if he didn't return to the starting line-up, with Carl Robinson the most likely man to step down if he is deemed fit to play.

“Saf is training but he is a little bit off the pace at the moment,” said Worthington. “He is playing a little bit of catch-up as far as his fitness is concerned so we will see what he is like at the weekend.”

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