Nelson has right stuff

David Cuffley Defender Michael Nelson has earned his chance to play Championship football - according to the ex-Canary who played alongside him at his first Football League club.

David Cuffley

Defender Michael Nelson has earned his chance to play Championship football - according to the ex-Canary who played alongside him at his first Football League club.

The 30-year-old centre-half scored the goal that gave Paul Lambert's men a 1-0 promotion-clinching victory at Charlton and followed it up with the second goal in the 2-0 home win over Gillingham that confirmed them as League One champions. After that notable double, Nelson has been nominated for the Coca-Cola League One Player of the Month Award, along with Roy O'Donovan (Hartlepool), Rickie Lambert (Southampton) and Ian Harte (Carlisle).

And seeing his old team-mate taking a starring role in City's success delighted ex-Norwich full-back Colin Woodthorpe, who played with Nelson for a season at Bury.

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The two men were in the Bury side that reached the Division Three - now League Two - play-offs in 2002-03, losing to Bournemouth in the semi-final. And Woodthorpe believes Nelson's determined climb up the ladder from non-League football with Bishop Auckland has earned its reward.

He said: “I didn't know much about 'Nels' before I went to Bury from Stockport. But he was a fantastic lad, very tough in training, no nonsense, and he can play a bit. I'm delighted he has a crack at the Championship next season.

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“He is a good, solid player, he has done his time at other clubs, paid his dues to the game and worked his way up. My first year at Bury was his last because he left after the first season I was there when we lost in the play-offs.

“Hartlepool bought him and that turned out to be a good decision because he's done really well for himself and I wish him good luck in the Championship.”

Woodthorpe admitted, however, that he almost failed to recognise Nelson while watching highlights of his goalscoring exploits.

“I'd seen the game on TV but I couldn't be sure it was him at first because he always used to have his hair quite short at Bury,” he said.

“The two centre-backs were him and Chris Swailes, who is now at MK Dons, and they looked like The Management, like a couple of bouncers.”

Woodthorpe, who made 53 appearances for City between 1991 and 1994 - including the FA Cup semi-final against Sunderland and the UEFA Cup tie against Inter Milan - is also pleased to see two of his old Carrow Road team-mates playing their part in this season's success

He said: “I think you need that continuity and Ian Culverhouse has done very well as coach. And if Ian Crook can't coach people then I don't know who can because he was technically one of the finest players I've see. Paul Lambert was a very good player and he has done very well to get them up because it's not easy to get out of that division.”

Woodthorpe, 41, who hung up his boots in 2008, soon after helping Bury knock the Canaries out of the FA Cup, does have one painful memory of playing against Lambert during his Scottish Premier League days with Aberdeen, when he picked up an injury that forced him to miss the 1995 Scottish League Cup final win over Dundee.

“We were playing Motherwell and he blocked a clearance and I broke my foot. I was out for eight weeks and missed the only cup final I would ever have played in,” he said.

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