Hucks hails 'immense' defending

CHRIS LAKEY Darren Huckerby paid tribute to Norwich City's “immense” defence after the Canaries back four soaked up some intense Sheffield United pressure to ensure the three points stayed in Norfolk on Saturday.


Darren Huckerby paid tribute to Norwich City's “immense” defence after the Canaries back four soaked up some intense Sheffield United pressure to ensure the three points stayed in Norfolk on Saturday.

The Blades laid siege to Robert Green's penalty area early in the second half, but City stood firm - thanks to Craig Fleming, Gary Doherty, Jason Shackell and Adam Drury.

“I thought in the first half we were a much better team,” said Huckerby. “In the second half they pumped quite a few balls into our box, but I don't think Greeny had too many saves to make.

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“They put us under a bit of pressure but it wasn't really that creative, it was more just getting it in the box and hoping something would drop.

“But the back four were brilliant today, they dealt with everything - and you wouldn't say it was shot after shot they were having, it wasn't, it was just putting pressure on us, getting the ball in the box, and I thought we dealt with it pretty well.”

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Shackell was starting just his third match since returning from a length injury absence last month - and it was his superb late clearance off the toes if Ade Akinbiyi which may well have ensured City made it four home wins on the trot.

“I though Adam Drury was immense, and Shacks was immense,” said Huckerby. “The whole back four - Doc and Flem - were brilliant, and we deserved the win.”

That the win should come against Neil Warnock's Sheffield United made it just that little bit sweeter, although Huckerby was reluctant to stir up the undoubted bad feeling between the teams and the fans too much.

“There is a little bit of needle,” he said. “I don't know if it's down to the way their manager gets things going. Like I say we deserved to win and the pressure is on them.”

As for Warnock, and his reaction at the whistle when it seems he was less than respectful towards Canaries boss Nigel Worthington, Huckerby said: “He gives a lot out and he has to take some now and again.”

While Warnock saw the match as something of a turning point, despite the result making it just one win the last seven, the Blades sit in a better position that City, with worries only over whether they go up automatically or whether they have to settle for a play-0off place. City's concern is whether they can overcome the odds and get themselves in the top six - and that's when reality bites.

“I think it is going to be very difficult,” said Huckerby. “We are seven points behind Preston and they have got a game in hand. Realistically, 10 points - I don't think it will be easy to catch them. Wolves are doing well as well so we will take every game as it comes. We need to keep a settled side, we have to keep everybody fit and keep going.”

What will help is that everyone appears, on the surface at least, to be singing from the same hymn sheet, with the home crowd much more vocal and supportive than in recent home games.

“This club is a great family club and is run well and we want to do well, the fans want us to do well,” said Huckerby. “We are all in it together really and we should all be heading in the same direction and the last few weeks - okay, we lost at Palace - but the last five or six games we have been pretty good. It's been four wins and two draws in the last seven.

“I think we have got good players but there have been a lot of things going on that have not helped - a lot of injuries, a lot of players not playing as well as they should be and obviously Dean Ashton is a very good player and we have missed him.

“That's no excuse, because we haven't played as well as we can do, we know that, but it's been difficult for all the teams that have come down, Southampton and palace, who although they're up there are way off automatic promotion.

“We have been disappointed, but hopefully we can finish strongly.”

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