Jim frustrated by City break
DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City's weary troops may be glad of a fortnight's break - but one of the new Colney generals can't wait to get back into battle. Assistant manager Jim Duffy reckons the two-week gap before the next Coca-Cola Championship fixture at Colchester United on March 31 is a mixed blessing, especially with the Canaries in prime form after winning four of their last six matches.
Norwich City's weary troops may be glad of a fortnight's break - but one of the new Colney generals can't wait to get back into battle.
Assistant manager Jim Duffy reckons the two-week gap before the next Coca-Cola Championship fixture at Colchester United on March 31 is a mixed blessing, especially with the Canaries in prime form after winning four of their last six matches.
“It's one of those double-edged swords. Everyone enjoys a little break but at this particular time we would like to keep the momentum going,” said Duffy, who was appointed as Peter Grant's right-hand man just over five weeks ago, since when City have played 10 matches in a hectic programme.
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He said: “We've just got six points, two clean sheets and you won't see many better goals than Darren Huckerby scored in the last two games. It's a very good way to go into the break. Confidence is high and I'm sure we can get that back when we start again.
“I have been very encouraged by the performances, there's no doubt about that. The desire of the players and the work ethic has been first-class. Apart from the first 45 minutes at Cardiff, the players have performed well and not always got the results their performances deserved.
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“The attitude and spirit has been very good. The football has been excellent and we've come up against some of the top sides in the league.
“I haven't enjoyed it - I've absolutely loved it. I love being out there with the players, being involved at the club. There's a great atmosphere. I've thoroughly enjoyed every second of it so far.”
Duffy's arrival has coincided with an influx of new recruits to the senior side, with Scottish pair Simon Lappin and Mark Fotheringham joined by on-loan goalkeeper Tony Warner - and 18-year-old striker Chris Martin making a hugely impressive start to first-team football.
Said Duffy: “I think it's a good thing - you always want competition. The two lads from Scotland have done that and helped contribute to improving the squad.
“At one time we were wondering who was going to score the goals, with Robert Earnshaw injured, Chris Brown injured and Dion Dublin injured, and we thought it might be a major problem, but Chris Martin has been a revelation, there is no doubt about that.
“He's scored a few goals, which is fantastic for him personally but even more important for the team because it gives us that belief that we can win games.
“Peter also felt it was important to get an experienced goalkeeper in. That was his choice and Tony has come in and given confidence to the back four. We've had five goalkeepers this season, but you need a consistent back four and goalkeeper. Get that right and it makes a big difference.
“Throughout the season we've been chopping and changing the back four and 'keeper but it's settled over the last few weeks.”
Even so, Duffy insisted the loss of Robert Earnshaw has probably cost City their play-off chances.
He said: “There's an element of frustration that we are not up there, but if you look at those teams in the top six, all of them except for Sunderland have one of the top scorers in the Championship. Derby have Howard, Birmingham have McSheffrey, Preston have Nugent, Cardiff have Chopra and West Brom have Kamara.
“If we had had Robert Earnshaw, I am sure we'd be several points better off and within striking distance of the play-offs.
“We have been unfortunate with injuries. Peter doesn't like to talk about that because he feels it may give the players a get-out, but from my point of view, you have to be realistic. We have David Marshall out for the rest of the season, Luke Chadwick was out for four months, and Robert Earnshaw has been out two months already. These are not minor injuries, for a couple of games, but key players out for a significant part of the season.
“If you lose your goalkeeper, your top striker and one of your creative midfielders, I think most teams would struggle to replace them.”
Duffy said there was no specific target for the remaining eight games of the season. - just a desire to keep improving.
He said: “In the games against the top sides, we haven't taken the points our play deserved and that's something we have got to improve on.
“I don't want to set targets because if you don't reach them, you think you've failed. Our target is to continue to improve and make the team better.”