Iwan backing big target man to deliver the goods for Norwich City
Iwan Roberts sees a kindred spirit in new Norwich City striker Steve Morison – and believes he will provide the kind of competition for attacking places that will help keep the club in the Premier League.
The last time the Canaries reached the top flight in 2004, Wales international Roberts was discarded before they kicked a ball, but manager Paul Lambert has recruited a red dragon of his own to add extra firepower to the squad.
Lambert spent a reported �2.1m on Millwall’s Morison – rising to a possible �2.8m – and �1.5m on Everton’s James Vaughan, the first two summer additions to his senior squad, providing fresh alternatives to promotion-winning strikers Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson and Chris Martin.
Roberts, who played in the Premiership with Leicester City, said the more options available to Lambert, the better.
He said: “You can only have a squad of 25 so it does limit you to a certain degree, but you need different options because players are going to go through lean spells, lack of form, injuries, so you need people who are more than capable of filling their shoes.
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“That’s what the manager has done, he’s done it nice and early before the start of pre-season training. It’s an exciting time, it really is.”
And Roberts, 43, appearing with former team-mate Paul McVeigh at the Community Sports Foundation stand at the Royal Norfolk Show to launch Aviva’s “On The Ball” Challenge, is looking forward to seeing how City’s new recruits fit in.
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“I’ve seen Morison a few times when I’ve covered the Wales games.
“He’s a bit like me, a big target man who makes his presence felt,” he said.
“He had a good season at Millwall and scored plenty of goals. He came into the game late and played non-League for a while but I think he will be raring to go.
“Holty is probably the first name on the manager’s teamsheet most games, I would have thought, with the two seasons he’s had. But you need a strong squad.
“I saw Vaughan a couple of times last year at Crystal Palace. He’s not really achieved what he should have done, through injuries.
He’s been very unlucky with injuries, but he’s still very young, at a good age, only 22, and he has come from a Premier League club and he’s got a lot to prove, not just to himself but to other people, to show what a good player he is.
“Simeon Jackson found it hard to settle in to start off with but once he started scoring goals towards the end of the season he looked a different player.”
Roberts acknowledges, however, that finding the net will be much tougher in the top flight.
“You only have to look at the top scorers in the division. You don’t get too many players scoring more than 15 league goals.
“That shows you how hard it is now to score goals in the Premier League,” he said.
Roberts is confident City will not suffer the same fate as in 2004-05, when their Premiership stay lasted just one season.
“As soon as you get promoted, the bookies make you firm favourites to come straight back down,” he said.
“West Brom and Newcastle proved them wrong last year and I thought Blackpool were really unlucky to get relegated.
“I’m convinced there will be three teams worse than Norwich in that Premier League.
“I think Paul Lambert will probably give the players who won promotion a chance and rightly so. They deserve their chance.
“But you can’t stress enough how having a big squad will benefit the club.
“I think the squad he already has will do well in the Premier League. Survival is the most important thing and you can build from that.”
Roberts, who scored 96 times in 306 games for the Canaries, keeps fit for the occasional game – he will play for Dale Gordon’s Legends at Diss on Sunday – and hopes to watch City next season on days when he is not broadcasting for BBC Wales.
“I’ll be working most Saturdays covering either the Swansea or Cardiff games.
“With Swansea being promoted I’ll do both their games against Norwich but if I’m not working I’d love to go down and support the lads,” he said, still marvelling at the club’s revival under Lambert.
“I was working at Leicester on the first day of the season two years ago, the 7-1 defeat against Colchester, and I was thinking ‘Where’s the club going to go from this?’
“They were in freefall, really, relegated to League One after so many years, and it was vital that they bounced back straightaway, which they did.
“You have to give Paul Lambert, his staff and the players so much credit because what they’ve achieved over the past 18 months to two years is unbelievable.”