Huckerby back in City team
David Cuffley Darren Huckerby is back in the Norwich City side tomorrow with his manager urging him: “Go ahead, make my day.”Boss Glenn Roeder is set to recall the 31-year-old to his starting eleven for the Coca-Cola Championship game against Barnsley at Carrow Road (3pm).
Darren Huckerby is back in the Norwich City side tomorrow with his manager urging him: “Go ahead, make my day.”
Boss Glenn Roeder is set to recall the 31-year-old to his starting eleven for the Coca-Cola Championship game against Barnsley at Carrow Road (3pm).
New signing Juan Velasco may have to wait for his debut, however, with the Spanish full-back more likely to be involved for the first time when Blackpool are the visitors a week tomorrow.
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Double player of the year Huckerby's return will delight his thousands of fans after he was left out of the 16 for three of the last six league games, including last Saturday's 4-0 hammering at Leicester, the Canaries' first defeat in 14 Championship matches.
He has not started a league match since the home game against Wolves on December 29, instead reduced to fleeting appearances from the substitutes' bench. His only start of 2008 so far came in the FA Cup third round replay defeat at Bury last month, when he was substituted after 65 minutes.
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Instead, 18-year-old loan signings Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Gibbs and James Henry have all operated in the wide left role.
Huckerby's exclusion - with his contract up at the end of the season - has divided fans' opinion, but now Roeder has thrown down the challenge to him to produce the old magic as City seek to complete a double over Simon Davey's FA Cup giant-killers.
“Darren will be playing from the start and I expect him to finish the game,” said Roeder.
“It's a great opportunity - a home game against Barnsley. It's a case of 'There's the stage, now play on it. Make us some chances, score us a goal. Go out there and produce things and perform for us. Go and produce a performance that Norwich supporters over the last four years have come to expect of him'.”
Though Roeder was not swayed by fans' opinion while his side put together a 13-match unbeaten run - of which Huckerby started just five - he said he had been impressed by his training regime.
“He works so hard at looking after himself and he's in great shape,” he said.
“He told me about a hip problem which I didn't know he had. He tells me the injection has sorted that out.”
Roeder is forced into at least three changes tomorrow because of suspension to Darel Russell, starting a three-match ban for his red card at Leicester, plus skipper Mark Fotheringham and striker Dion Dublin, both of whom collected their fifth yellow cards at the Walkers Stadium.
“We have three people ruled out and it will be a very young team tomorrow,” said Roeder.
Matty Pattison is a contender for one of the midfield roles, while Bertrand has recovered from a bout of flu' and striker Jamie Cureton is a candidate for a recall in attack after appearing as a substitute at Leicester just 12 days after an appendix operation.
But the City boss is set to keep faith with Jon Otsemobor at right-back, despite signing 30-year-old former Spain international Velasco until the end of the season.
Roeder believes tomorrow's game is too soon for Velasco, who has now been granted international clearance, to be thrown straight into Championship action.
“He's been with us for about two and a half weeks and Juan has trained particularly well,” said Roeder.
“He has to adapt to Championship football, having played in La Liga, where the amount of space you are allowed to play in is far greater than here.
“The Championship is a lot quicker, 100 miles per hour, but I think he's got enough experience to cope with that.
“He's here to play and he's here until the end of the season and then we will take it from there. Jon knows he has to perform if he wants to keep his place.”
On-loan centre-half Alex Pearce, 19, “has a chance” of making his debut, said Roeder.
“He trains tremendously well. We'll just have to wait and see whether he gets the opportunity.”