Leon hopes Norwich fans won't be too harsh
Michael Bailey Former Norwich City favourite Leon McKenzie is hoping for a favourable reception from the Canaries faithful before Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship curtain-raiser.
Former Norwich City favourite Leon McKenzie is hoping for a favourable reception from the Canaries faithful before Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship curtain-raiser.
Despite the 30-year-old leaving Carrow Road for Coventry City in a £1m move two years ago, he has yet to appear against Norwich after he was prevented from doing so by then-City boss Nigel Worthington and a series of injuries.
But with Norwich riding into the Midlands for the opening salvos of the new campaign the man most fondly remembered for his brace against Ipswich at Portman Road on his debut in 2003 looks set to finally play against his old club.
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“It will be my first time being available to play against them and it will be a bit weird to be honest,” said McKenzie. “I'm looking forward to it. I don't know if I'll be playing yet, so we'll see but I'm feeling as well as can be. I got through pre-season and I'm just trying to work hard and hopefully I'll have a good one this year.”
McKenzie last played for Coventry in December after a thigh injury ended his season, but with the striker back in contention for a call up he could appear in front of City's away travellers for the first time since pleading for a move out of Norwich.
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But he does not believe he will be in for a red hot reception.
“Have you heard I will?” joked McKenzie. “The club was great and they gave me an amazing time in the Premiership. No one can say to me I left because of another £10,000 a week because I'm not on much more here than I was at Norwich. It wasn't to do with money. It was that, at the time, I needed to move.
“The fans know what I'm about and deep down I hope they see I had some personal problems off the field. Then there was a situation with the manager at the time and it became one of those where where I had to move on.
“But I had some great times at Norwich. Maybe not so much at the end; that was mixed, but not all the people understood it and you can't please everyone.”
Last season was a tough time for Coventry but with Chris Coleman setting out on his first full season in charge, having kept the Sky Blues away from relegation, the additions of players like Freddie Eastwood should ensure they are a different proposition this season.
“The boss has rebuilt and brought a few in,” added McKenzie. “He is a good manager and he will bring the best out of the squad. We played really well the other day against Kilmarnock and although it's only a friendly, hopefully we'll be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. But you know what this league is like.”
Coventry have suffered some bad news ahead of the season opener with striker Leon Best ruled out for up to five weeks after he picked up a knee injury against Kilmarnock.
But McKenzie, who has seen more action on the left wing for Coventry than up front, does not expect Best's absence to affect his own chances of a starting berth.
With his current deal at Coventry coming to an end in the summer, McKenzie does not feel it is a case of playing for a new contract.
“I don't really look at it like that. I'm playing to do what it takes and everything else will look after itself,” he said. “It's just about me putting a run of games together. This is the last year of my contract so we will see what happens. I just want to play some games and hopefully get a few goals.”