Iwan: Earnie can light up derby
CHRIS LAKEY Canaries legend Iwan Roberts has backed Robert Earnshaw to turn Norwich's season around - by taking his anger out on arch rivals Ipswich on Sunday.
Canaries legend Iwan Roberts has backed Robert Earnshaw to turn Norwich's season around - by taking his anger out on arch rivals Ipswich on Sunday.
Roberts believes Earnshaw can do what another debut-maker did on a famous Sunday back in December 2003 and score on his debut. That day it was Leon McKenzie's turn to become an instant hero with both goals in a 2-0 win at Portman Road.
This weekend, Earnshaw will be in the spotlight, and Roberts believes that after being restricted to bit-part roles at West Brom, the Wales international will be champing at the bit.
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“I bet he can't wait to start playing again,” said Roberts. “There will be a lot of anger coming out in his performances in the next few weeks and Ipswich is a lovely game for him to make his debut in.
“I would not be at all surprised if Earnie goes out and does something special.”
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Roberts, right, a veteran of eight derbies and a two-goal hero in March 2000, is predicting a 3-1 win to the Canaries.
“And yes, I think he'll score,” he added. “I'd be surprised if he doesn't actually. A lot depends on how fit he is and whether he can start, but he'll be up for it.
“And I think this could be the boost that the club and the players need to get themselves into the play-offs. I still don't think it's unassailable now. I know they had a bad result at Reading but if they can get a run going like the one they had before Christmas they can still make it.”
Earnshaw will be an integral part of that battle, but he is clearly no straight replacement for the departed Dean Ashton - whose transfer profit helped fund the Welshman's move.
“They are totally different types of player, not just physically different,” said Roberts. “If you were going to replace Dean I'd say someone like Cameron Jerome at Cardiff was the one.
“I think with Earnie you will see more scrappy goals than Dean would ever score. Every Ashton goal seemed to be an absolute 'worldy' - he probably didn't get enough goals form inside the six-yard box.”
Earnshaw had a rough time at West Brom, where he was sidelined by Baggies boss Bryan Robson, but will find some sympathetic and welcoming faces at Carrow Road: Peter Thorne is a team-mate from their days at Cardiff, while he has been in the same Wales squads as Darren Ward and Carl Robinson.
And Roberts speaks with authority too, as a former player and now as an expert media analyst for Welsh TV.
“I was in a few Wales squads with Earnie when he was breaking through and even at an early age, out of the Under-21s he was also the one who got himself drafted into the full squad,” said Roberts.
“He is an exciting player to watch and he will put bums on seats. He is a proven goal scorer and every time he has played for West Brom, to me he's looked like he's going to score.
“I think he was a great signing, I really do. I don't think Norwich will have had a centre forward like him since Bellers (Craig Bellamy). He has that same eye for goal, the same build - he's an out and out scorer who has done it at the highest level and I hope he'll do it again for Norwich.”