Leon looking to pack a punch
CHRIS WISE Leon McKenzie has got two big sporting dates in his diary today - and he doesn't want to watch both of them from the sidelines. The Norwich City striker will be quite happy to be a spectator this evening when local fighter Jackson Williams pits his wits against the awesome talent of Amir Khan at London's ExCel Arena.
Leon McKenzie has got two big sporting dates in his diary today - and he doesn't want to watch both of them from the sidelines.
The Norwich City striker will be quite happy to be a spectator this evening when local fighter Jackson Williams pits his wits against the awesome talent of Amir Khan at London's ExCel Arena.
But he would be more than a little disappointed if he didn't get a taste of the action against his former club Crystal Palace this afternoon in a match the Canaries really have to win to keep alive their outside hopes of reaching the Championship play-offs.
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Now approaching full fitness after a couple of lengthy spells on the sidelines, McKenzie has featured as a second half substitute in City's previous three games, and has helped them over the line on each occasion. And he would relish the opportunity of another run-out at the ground where he made as debut as a professional nearly 10 years ago.
“It's a case of building up my match fitness now - but I am gradually getting there,” he said. “I did 60 minutes in the reserves on Monday night and felt really sharp and now I am looking forward to another game.
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“I know I am not going to get into the starting line-up at the moment and I accept that. But the more chances I get on the bench the more I can press for a recall. Hopefully I will get another chance to show what I can do at Selhurst Park - and hopefully it won't be too long before I get a start.”
McKenzie was on target in City's previous visit to Palace - the never-to-be-forgotten 3-3 draw at the tail end of last season - and reckons his side will have to do better than that this time around to keep themselves in the promotion hunt.
The Canaries start the day 11 points behind their opponents, and nine adrift of Preston, the side currently occupying the all important sixth position. Palace have one game in hand and Preston two, and although Billy Davies' side are away to runaway leaders Reading today there's clearly no margin for error now if City are going to end an extremely frustrating season on a high note.
A draw wouldn't necessarily spell the end of their promotion dream - but it's a win that McKenzie is looking for this afternoon.
“We have got to look to come away from Selhurst Park with all three points,” he said. “I suppose a draw wouldn't be too bad, but this is game we really need to win if we are to stay in the hunt for a place in the play-offs.
“We need to do better than we did last time, that's for sure. Although I scored a goal I don't have too many happy memories of that game because we should have come away with all three points. Hopefully it will be different this time.
“I am always happy to go back to Palace - because that's where I started as a kid. There's no bad blood, no bad feelings and it will be good to see a few old friends again. But all I will be concentrating on Saturday is doing my bit for Norwich City.”
McKenzie will be bumping into a few more familiar faces later in the day when he makes the short trip across London to get a taste of his other great sporting love - boxing.
His uncle Duke, the three times former world champion, will be at ringside for the big Frank Warren promotion, and other members of the McKenzie clan are also expected to be in attendance, along with several more City stars.
They will all be giving Norwich fighter Williams their full support as he attempts to pull off an unlikely victory over the rising star of British boxing.
“I'll be there with a few of the other lads and I am really looking forward to it,” said McKenzie. “It's going to be tough for Jackson, I am not going lie, but in this game you can never write anyone off.
“I'd just like to wish him all the best. I am sure he has been training very hard and he will go out there and give it his best shot. Amir Khan is a top prospect but if Jackson goes in the there and boxes to the best of his ability then I'm sure he will come out of it feeling proud.”
As for the main bout of the evening, the heavyweight showdown between Danny Williams and Matt Skelton, McKenzie believes it's too close to call.
“You never really know what you are going to get with Danny Williams - he is just so unpredictable,” he said. “It could either go one way or another. When I watch him it just frustrates me. He has got a lot of ability but he doesn't always show it in the ring.
“If I was going to pick a winner I would probably pick Skelton, but I not really a fan of him. I prefer Williams as a fighter and he is from the same area of London as me so I'll be cheering for him on Saturday night.”