McVeigh has it all to play for
RICK WAGHORN Manager Nigel Worthington today dangled the carrot of a new contract in front of Paul McVeigh as the in-form striker prepared for his 200th senior appearance for the Canaries.
Manager Nigel Worthington today dangled the carrot of a new contract in front of Paul McVeigh as the in-form striker prepared for his 200th senior appearance for the Canaries.
“There's always that prospect,” said Worthington. “But it's up to Paul - he's got to go and earn it.”
The one-time Northern Ireland international - who resumed training on Thursday after picking up an ankle knock in the 3-2 home defeat by Watford last weekend - has certainly been back to his very best with six goals in his last eight outings.
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McVeigh is set for his 200th game against Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night - where another goal would certainly cap a remarkable turnaround in his Norwich fortunes. He was, after all, available for transfer last summer.
It, also, of course heightens interest in his intentions in the summer when, under the Bosman ruling, he would be able to follow the likes of Andy Marshall, Darren Kenton and Phil Mulryne and walk out of Carrow Road on a free transfer.
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“It's always nice to chalk up any milestone at any football club and 200 games is a good number to achieve,” said Worthington, who made 338 appearances for Sheffield Wednesday in his own 10-year career at Hillsborough.
“But the big question for Paul is whether he can now keep it going. We've seen glimpses, but can we see it on an ongoing, regular basis?”
McVeigh arrived as part of Bryan Hamilton's sudden spending spree when, within a week of Bruce Rioch resigning, the Canaries paraded six fresh faces ahead of a home clash with Swindon Town. McVeigh, signed on a free transfer from Tottenham, was introduced to the home crowd along with Gaetano Giallanza, Des Hamilton, Garry Brady, Raymond de Waard and Fernando Derveld.
Despite being the last one to make his debut - as a substitute in the end-of-season trip to Bolton Wanderers in May 2000 - McVeigh has proved the great survivor and, nearly six years later, is now the club's third longest-serving player behind club captain Craig Fleming and goalkeeper Robert Green.
He has also grabbed the small matter of 39 goals and now has a new string to his bow as penalty-taker.
Much to the manager's delight, McVeigh has become the master blaster, smashing two spot-kick efforts straight down the middle of the goal in the last two home games against West Ham and Watford as opposed to the weak efforts with which Darren Huckerby and Dean Ashton spurned golden opportunities earlier this season.
“He's taken two penalties and hit them both with power - and on target. And that's all you can ask. And that's been very, very pleasing,” said Worthington.