I take nothing for granted - Etuhu
DAVID CUFFLEY Midfielder Dickson Etuhu is determined to stay a first-choice selection in the Norwich City side - but admits that fresh competition for places has been a key factor in their revival in fortunes.
Midfielder Dickson Etuhu is determined to stay a first-choice selection in the Norwich City side - but admits that fresh competition for places has been a key factor in their revival in fortunes.
The 24-year-old has appeared in all but two of the Canaries' 45 first team matches this season, and has sat out just one game since Peter Grant's arrival as boss, when he was suspended for last month's trip to his former club, Preston.
As City resume their Coca-Cola Championship programme against Colchester United at Layer Road tomorrow (3pm), Etuhu said he never took his selection for granted.
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He said: “We've got a lot of good players, a lot of competition now, especially in midfield and up front. There will be loads of people battling for a spot in the team.
“But that's the best thing about football. It keeps you on top of your game and I love going out on that training pitch and having to work hard to prove that I should get a shot on Saturday. I'm sure the rest of the boys are the same.
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“Although I've played the most games this season in the team, it doesn't mean I'll play the next game. I'll have to work hard to keep myself in the team.”
Grant has consistently praised Etuhu's contribution - and spoken of him as a player of Premiership quality - after criticism from some quarters.
“All that matters at the end of the day is that the players and the manager are happy. He's happy, my team-mates are happy,” said Etuhu.
He said he had enjoyed his first full season at Carrow Road after a £450,000 move from Deepdale, in spite of City's failure to challenge for promotion.
“It's been great. There have been some downers, but I feel as if I have played well this season. I started off really strong, dipped a little bit but I'm coming back up to my best again.
“You can never play all season at the top of your game and hopefully now I've gone past the stage where I've dipped a little. I want to push on and finish strong.
“I'm playing in the middle with Youssef (Safri), we're enjoying our football, both of us, and if we keep working together I'm sure we'll be fine.”
Etuhu last scored for City in the 1-1 draw against Colchester at Carrow Road five months ago, but the barren run has not played on his mind.
He said: “It would be nice to score, but I'm not really bothered about that. I just want us to win our games and I want to play well. If I get a goal, I get a goal, but if not, as long as I play well and the team wins, I'm sure nobody will be bothered about that.
“Due respect to Colchester. They've done really well in this league and we will have to work very hard to get anything out of it. Most of the teams in this league are physical and love a battle, so that's nothing we haven't seen before.
“It will be a hard game at their place, but we've got two away wins in the last few weeks and there's no reason why we can't go and get three points.”
City won four Championship games out of six before their enforced fortnight off because of international matches.
Said Etuhu: “We were buzzing at the time when the break came, but at the same time we've played a lot of games and we needed a bit of a rest. We'll come prepared this week to pick up where we left off.
“I was always confident we would do that because we were too good to go down, everybody knows that. But it was just about confidence and about getting a run going.
“It's been frustrating being in the bottom half of the table. We know where we belong, we've beaten a lot of the top teams but that's football. We're gelling. The manager is getting the team to play the way he wants and, as you can see, it's getting better every game.
“Sooner or later we'll be back up there where we belong.”
Safri returned from international duty with Morocco yesterday and was quick to dismiss reports that he had been injured towards the end of the game against Zimbabwe on Sunday.
The national team's official website claimed Safri had been carried off but he said: “I played the full 90 minutes and I am really fit, 100 per cent. There is nothing to worry about.”
It means skipper Adam Drury, struggling with an ankle injury, is the one real doubt from the team that started the 1-0 win against Stoke a fortnight ago. Striker Chris Brown will not be risked as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Colchester may be without skipper Karl Duguid, who has had a steroid injection in his injured knee, while left-winger Kevin McLeod has had a hernia operation and is unlikely to be fit to return.