Marshall - We can banish Blues

David Cuffley Goalkeeper David Marshall believes he and his Norwich City team-mates will come up against the best side in the Coca-Cola Championship on Saturday - but says they will show no fear as they bid for their first win of the season.

David Cuffley

Goalkeeper David Marshall believes he and his Norwich City team-mates will come up against the best side in the Coca-Cola Championship on Saturday - but says they will show no fear as they bid for their first win of the season.

Birmingham City arrive at Carrow Road as the only side in the division with a 100 per cent record after the opening three games.

Marshall knows plenty about the Blues' key individuals because of his Scotland connections. Manager Alex McLeish was his former national team boss, while star forwards James McFadden and Garry O'Connor, who has three goals so far this season, are his international colleagues.

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All three players were yesterday named in the Scots' squad for their first two World Cup qualifying games, in Macedonia and Iceland, but national unity must be put aside for at least another 48 hours with the small matter of three Championship points at stake.

“It's a tough game,” said Marshall. “We've not won a game yet and they've won every game, and it's by far the best squad in the Championship.

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“But we're due a win and you could say they're due a defeat so we will just go into it believing we can get three points.

“If we get a win against them it would give the boys a lot of confidence. We've not been playing badly - it's just we haven't got that win.”

Marshall has every respect, though, for McLeish, and a healthy regard for the capabilities of his fellow Scots.

He said: “I know the manager well and I've played against his teams in Celtic v Rangers matches, so I know he's a good manager and will have his team well organised.

“With the Scotland squads he was great. He had a lot of success with Rangers and was unlucky not to get Scotland to the European Championships. His teams work hard and he's got that bit of quality up front and McFadden in midfield is a top player.

“I think they've got pretty much a Premiership squad but that's not to say they just turn up and win. They have a good work ethic as well. But they're not going to go through this season without losing a game so I hope this time it will be Saturday.

“It will be a difficult game but it's nothing for us to fear, I don't think.

“I don't think we've played badly but we've missed a few chances and conceded three penalties. If some of the chances had gone in, we could have got off to a great start. I hope the luck will turn and a few of these chances will go in.”

Marshall is likely to be up against another familiar face with centre-half Martin Taylor, on loan at Norwich last season, now re-established in the Blues' defence.

“Martin was great for us. There was a lot of speculation saying he might come here but with them going into the Championship, they've obviously thought he's a very good defender. He was playing towards the end in the Premiership. So if he plays it will be difficult, but I think we've got the players, too. Lupo's scored a couple of goals and Jamie will be looking to get back on the scoresheet. It will not be easy for them.”

Marshall played behind a string of different central defensive partnerships for City last season, and now has to get used to working with another pair in new signings John Kennedy and Dejan Stefanovic. His impressions so far are favourable.

He said: “Defensively we've not been too bad. We've conceded three penalties, so if you take them out the boys have been pretty sound. John and Dejan look as if they've been playing together for years.

“It's just nicking the goals and if we get into the lead in games that's when the defence can keep us in it.

“If somebody had said I'd face three penalties in the first three games I'd at least expect to save one, so it's been disappointing that way. I don't want another penalty at the weekend - just the victory.”

Manager Glenn Roeder believes new goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright has already improved Marshall's game and made him more vocal.

“To have a permanent coach, you can talk through things when you know he's going to be here for a while and the training's been good, so I hope you can see the benefits during the season.

“I don't consider myself quiet on the pitch - maybe quiet off it - but I think the manager wanted me to talk a bit more and he's been quite pleased with that.”

After league duty against Birmingham, Marshall has a double World Cup date to look forward to.

“Macedonia have had a couple of good results against England recently and I think it will be 110 degrees there next Saturday,” he said. “They will be two tough games. I think if we took four points from the first two games it would be good because we need a good start. With Holland and Norway the other two teams in the group, it will be difficult. I think if we go unbeaten in the first two we should have a chance.”

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