I aim to give Kel hell – Huckerby
Darren Huckerby is looking forward to bumping into one or two old pals tomorrow when he makes only his second return trip to Elland Road since leaving Leeds United in 2000 - but, make no mistake, any friendships will be completely forgotten for the 90 minutes of City's Coca-Cola Championship match.
Darren Huckerby is looking forward to bumping into one or two old pals tomorrow when he makes only his second return trip to Elland Road since leaving Leeds United in 2000 - but, make no mistake, any friendships will be completely forgotten for the 90 minutes of City's Coca-Cola Championship match (3pm).
The 29-year-old, who is the Canaries' top goalscorer since Dean Ashton's departure with eight goals to his name, is firm friends with right-back and United stalwart Gary Kelly - who has made more than 500 appearances for Leeds - but is adamant that for the duration of the game he will be doing his utmost to put one over him.
“It's only the second time that I have been back there since I left so it will be nice to go back and I'm sure that I'll bump into one or two familiar faces,” said Huckerby.
“Obviously, I know Kel very well. I've played against him before and with him - he has been a great servant to the club,” he added.
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“But that's not my problem. I have got to do everything in my power to win the game. Kel's not daft. We've played against each other before so it will be a good battle.”
The only other time that Huckerby has returned to Elland Road was with Manchester City in August 2002, when Leeds won 3-0 in the Premiership, and the City winger is determined not be on the end of another drubbing.
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Similarly, Norwich haven't played at Elland Road since they were relegated from the top flight 11 years ago. Indeed, it was in their final away game of the 1994-95 season that their 2-1 defeat by Leeds sealed their fate.
And Huckerby is well aware that it's crucial for the Canaries not to go missing again, as they did in the Selhurst Park slaughter two weeks ago, or they could be on the wrong end of a similarly humiliating scoreline.
“It is a big, big game for us,” he said, hopeful that the Canaries can still, by some miracle, force their way into the play-offs.
“I'll be looking forward to it. We have got to pick up as many points as we can but we're not stupid. We know that it is going to be very difficult,” added Huckerby, knowing full well that Preston, who currently occupy that all-important sixth place and final play-off spot, are seven points ahead of the Canaries with two games in hand.
“While there is still a chance, we will battle for the points. It is going to be a very difficult game and they are in front of their own fans.”
Huckerby added: “We are still confident and we have made a few changes. Jason Shackell came in and done brilliant so we are looking forward to the game and are looking to keep building. We have got to try to get a settled side and hopefully go and take the three points.
“We have got to stand up and be counted, there's no doubt about that. It will be fast and furious and a tough game.”
Manager Nigel Worthington is also looking forward to returning to Elland Road, having spent two years with Leeds.
“I was at Leeds United for two years and thoroughly enjoyed it. They are a very passionate supporters - it a huge football club,” he said. “Funnily enough, Gary Kelly and I roomed together. He's a great lad, full of bubble, enthusiasm and energy and has had a great career at the football club. I'm looking forward to seeing him again.”
Team-wise, Worthington will make a late decision on whether or not to throw Youssef Safri back into the fray after he missed last Saturday's narrow win over Stoke City with a badly bruised hip.
Otherwise the manager confirmed that left-back Adam Drury will return to his starting plans following his one-match ban leaving Simon Charlton to fight for a place on the bench.
As for the home side, manager Kevin Blackwell - rewarded this week for his promotion-chasing efforts with a new, three-year deal - is expected to name a wholly unchanged side to the one that beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend.