Lappin's salute to Czech mate Dave

DAVID CUFFLEY Simon Lappin led the tributes to striker David Strihavka after the summer signing opened his Norwich City goalscoring account - but admitted he was not one of those helping the big Czech get to grips with the English language.


Simon Lappin led the tributes to striker David Strihavka after the summer signing opened his Norwich City goalscoring account - but admitted he was not one of those helping the big Czech get to grips with the English language.

Strihavka has yet to start a Championship match for the Canaries, but his second-half winner as a substitute against Crystal Palace at Carrow Road on Saturday may have improved his chances of doing so when they visit Charlton Athletic tomorrow night.

Lappin delivered the perfect corner after 75 minutes to set up the only goal of the game, and he said there was universal delight in the dressing room that the 24-year-old had found the net.

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“We managed to get three points with our hard work and with big Dave getting his first goal, all the boys are delighted for him,” said Lappin. “The big man's worked his socks off since he's been here.

“He's trying his best with his English all the time, all the boys appreciate that and it's great to see him get off the mark in front of the home crowd. Hopefully that will kick him on now and he'll go and bang a few more in for us.”

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But the Scottish midfielder, thrust into a central role alongside Darel Russell against Palace in another positional switch, confessed that he was not the best candidate to help Strihavka improve his language skills.

“Oh no, he doesn't understand a word I say. I don't think the English boys understand me, never mind big Dave. But he's tried his best and we're all delighted for him. It's a great three points for us.”

Lappin said operating in his third different position in the last three matches was not a problem.

“It doesn't bother me, as I've said before. I've played in a number of positions - left-back, wide left, centre midfield today - and wherever the gaffer wants to play me I'll try my best in that position,” he said.

“It's not about individual players, it's about the team. We were disappointed to lose two on the bounce but we bounced back today with a great three points against a good side, so I hope we can build on that and take confidence from it.

“We knew it was going to be a battle and it's the same in every game this season.

“Charlton is a very difficult game for us but we'll go there and approach the game in the same manner.”

Strihavka, who arrived from Banik Ostrava in July for a reported £650,000, said his first goal was an important hurdle to overcome.

“I am so happy. My first goal is very important for me and this is a very important victory for all the team - the most important victory.

“I have been ill last week, but today I am very good although the last 30 minutes was very difficult, the high tempo, very difficult - I am so happy

“I enjoy England, I like England, I like Norwich. I am teaching alone, watching TV, listening to the radio and talking with the guys in the changing room. It is better - after two months.”

Man of the match Russell revealed just what it was like for Strihavka in the Canaries dressing room.

“He writes everything down,” said Russell. “He has a conversation and he has a little book with him all the time. He writes it down, translates it himself and five minutes later you hear him laughing to himself because he has just realised what the boys have said to each other.

“It's massive for him - it's taken him a little time to settle in. On Thursday he scored two great headers in training in our practice match and I said to him before the game he was going to come on and knock a header in and he has come in and done that - it's brilliant for him and I am really pleased for him.”

Manager Peter Grant said the City players deserved credit for helping Strihavka settle in.

“He was in the hotel and because we had so many new signing it was like a family in there, so I think they have all been good to him and made him understand quickly and that's helped him settle - and it's always important when you go into a new country,” said Grant.

“I am very fortunate that they are a lovely bunch of boys here and they have made it easier for me. It can be difficult because sometimes people can be isolated, but they have been very good with him, simple things like taking him out to dinner or inviting him round for dinner. That has been important in him being part of the group.

“We are very, very pleased with him and I am sure he has a bright future in the English game because he is powerful, he's quick and technically he's good, so he's got a mixture.

“He is 24 and he knows he is capable of achieving, he knows he is capable of getting to the next level. We are very fortunate to have him.

As for the language barrier, Grant joked: “When you say 'Well done' to him, he understands you, when you say 'Rubbish', he doesn't.”

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