Make it a night to savour

DAVID CUFFLEY Skipper Jason Shackell reaches the first major landmark of his Norwich City career tonight - still getting to know his fifth central defensive partner of the season. Shackell is set for his 100th senior appearance for the Canaries when they take on Coca-Cola Championship leaders Watford at Carrow Road (7.45pm).

DAVID CUFFLEY

Skipper Jason Shackell reaches the first major landmark of his Norwich City career tonight - still getting to know his fifth central defensive partner of the season.

Shackell is set for his 100th senior appearance for the Canaries when they take on Coca-Cola Championship leaders Watford at Carrow Road (7.45pm).

The 24-year-old captain had a new right-hand man in Sunday's East Anglian derby against Ipswich when on-loan Martin Taylor made his debut.


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And boss Glenn Roeder, who gave Shackell the green light to carry on wearing the armband after arriving as manager last week, reckons Taylor's presence will have done him the power of good.

“Martin hasn't played a lot of football lately, but in the game I thought he was excellent. I felt he gave a lot of confidence to the captain, to Shackell, to concentrate on his own game. Consequently he played well,” said Roeder.

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“He wasn't having to worry about what was going on around him too much and as the captain, he could just really focus on his own game because he knew Martin was doing so well next to him.”

Shackell, who was the width of a goalpost away from his first goal of the season against Town, has already been paired in central defence this season with Gary Doherty, Dion Dublin, Ian Murray and - at least for parts of matches - Michael Spillane, but the new combination will get another chance to impress against Adrian Boothroyd's table-toppers, undoubtedly a major examination despite Watford's 3-0 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Dublin is definitely ruled out tonight after being substituted at half-time in the 2-2 draw with Ipswich because of a tight hamstring.

Roeder confirmed that Dublin had no chance of facing the Hornets.

“He won't be playing - simple as that,” said Roeder. “I don't know why there are always managers that try to hide the obvious. I can't see the value of that. If he's out, he's out.

“Aidy Boothroyd will know that anyhow, so we've got to go to war with what we've got and Dion won't be one of those, unfortunately.

“We couldn't take a chance at half-time. He was prepared to go out for another 10 minutes but being prepared to go out for 10 minutes is telling you he's going to break down and be out for longer.

“He had done so well in the first half for us and he's so important to the team with his experience, his general demeanour and his attitude about the place, if it means missing him for a couple of games, we'll shrug our shoulders and accept that rather than lose him for anything up to six, seven, eight weeks even, if he'd ripped his hamstring, which he would have done, if we'd sent him out.”

Asked whether John Hartson, who replaced Dublin against Town, would be starting against Watford, Roeder said: “He might be. I'm not going to tell him everything. I've got other strikers as well, who weren't on the bench. In Sunday's game John was the ideal person to try to get back in the game.”

Goalscorer Jamie Cureton complained of cramp against Town and was eventually replaced by Jimmy Smith, but he will be fit.

“Jamie had a little bit of cramp, which sometimes can be brought on by tension. The game was so important. Probably playing Ipswich added a little bit to the tension and you can get cramp because of that.

“It must have been 30 seconds before he scored he'd come to the side and he said 'I've got to some cramp'. So I said 'Score a goal and you can come off' - and he did. Then I said to him he'd have to score another one. But he'll be fine.”

David Strihavka, Chris Brown and Chris Martin did not make the 16 against Ipswich but one of them could come into contention with Dublin ruled out and Darren Huckerby starting a three-match suspension for his sending-off in stoppage time against Town.

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