Hucks: It’s all or nothing
CHRIS WISE Darren Huckerby reckons nothing less than three points will do this evening if Norwich City are to keep their outside hopes of promotion alive.
Darren Huckerby reckons nothing less than three points will do this evening if Norwich City are to keep their outside hopes of promotion alive.
The Canaries travel to struggling Burnley for a rare Friday night encounter with an encouraging run of form behind them and have moved to the fringes of the play-off zone as a result.
But as far as Huckerby is concerned all that good work will count for nothing if they fail to notch up their first away victory of 2006 at Turf Moor.
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Sixth-placed Preston will have two games in hand on the Canaries by the weekend - both at home against lowly opposition - and the flying winger is well aware that his side are likely to have nothing but pride to play for if Burnley manage to come out of tonight's live televised encounter with an overdue positive result.
“We need to win this one, a draw wouldn't be that much use to us,” he said. “And with the way we have been playing recently I think three points is definitely achievable - that is what we will be looking for.
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“Apart from the Crystal Palace game we have been on a good run recently, and we have just got to make sure we keep that going.”
Huckerby knows that anything is possible if City keep on winning games, but is honest enough to admit that the odds would still be stacked against his side even if they did beat Burnley tonight to close the gap on Preston to just four points.
“Realistically it is going to be very difficult,” he said. “In fact I would say we are struggling because whatever we do we have still got to hope that teams above us slip up.
“Look at Preston. Even if we won on Friday night they would still be 10 points ahead of us next week if they won their two games in hand. With so few games to play it's for them to lose now.
“All I can say is that we will keep fighting to the end of the season. This side is capable of winning seven games on the trot, there's no doubt about that. But doing it is a different thing altogether. We will be playing against teams who will also be desperate to come away with three points, so it is going to be very difficult. As long as we finish the season strongly, keep moving in the right direction and set ourselves up for next season then I won't have any complaints.”
Huckerby would certainly settle for a repeat of City's previous result at Turf Moor. A little under two years ago Nigel Worthington's side recovered from a 3-2 half-time deficit to pull off a remarkable 5-3 victory, and took another big step towards automatic promotion as a result.
Having scored two of City's goals that day Huckerby remembers the game well, and it will help him carry positive thoughts into tonight's encounter against a Burnley side who have lost their previous six.
“The last time we went there it was a great result,” he said. “All the forwards scored that day - I think Matty Svensson got a couple as well and Leon (McKenzie) also got on the score-sheet - and we came away with a good win. We'd certainly settle for a repeat of that, but we know it won't be easy.
“Burnley will be desperate for a win themselves after struggling a bit of late.
“They'll be spurred on by pride, just like any other team. They have lost a few games recently and they won't want to get turned over again in front of their own fans and a live television audience.”
City will go into the game on a high after last Saturday's 2-1 win over high-flying Sheffield United - and Huckerby admits he is still buzzing after putting one over the Blades manager Neil Warnock.
“It was a big win for us, especially as it came against them,” he said. “Their manager can be a bit lively at times so it was nice to get a victory. I know he spouted off about how they had battered us, and stuff like that, but I thought we were the better team that day.”
As for the V-sign that Warnock directed at his opposite number - which resulted in the Blades boss being charged by the FA on Wednesday - Huckerby added: “It didn't surprise me in the least bit what happened at the end. A player would have got sent off for doing that - in fact it happened here this season to Kevin Nicholls after our game against Luton. But it didn't worry me because we had the three points.”