New Norwich City signing Kei Kamara on standby after impressing in training
- Credit: The Kansas City Star
Norwich City boss Chris Hughton is wary of rushing new signing Kei Kamara into Premier League action too soon – despite an impressive first day in training from the Sierra Leone international striker.
Kamara, 28, completed his first training session with his new team-mates at Colney yesterday, but Hughton said he was still deciding whether or not to include him in his squad of 18 for tomorrow’s Premier League game against Fulham at Carrow Road (3pm). Monday’s Barclays Under-21 Premier League trip to Reading may be a more likely starting point for the player on loan from MLS club Sporting Kansas City.
It is not Hughton’s only key decision to make with winger Anthony Pilkington and Alex Tettey, both of whom withdrew from international duty this week, rated “touch and go” to face Fulham.
Pilkington missed a potential Republic of Ireland debut against Poland because of a hamstring injury he suffered in the 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers, while Tettey pulled out of Norway’s friendly in Spain with a knee problem.
However, defender Ryan Bennett, who missed England Under-21s’ victory over Sweden with a hamstring injury, will be fit – as will returning international trio Wes Hoolahan, Robert Snodgrass and Russell Martin.
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“Ryan’s injury was the lesser of the three and he was able to do something today,” said Hughton at yesterday’s weekly Press conference. “Pilkington didn’t train today and neither did Alex Tettey. We are assessing them still – we certainly haven’t ruled them out but they will be touch and go.”
As for City’s two new strikers, it appears Luciano Becchio is more likely to see some action against Fulham than Kamara, after his 87th-minute introduction at Loftus Road.
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“Becchio is the one who is certainly up to speed. He missed the FA Cup game for Leeds but came on for us last week,” said Hughton. “As regards fitness and sharpness, he is very much up to speed. I thought he made an impact when he came on but I would expect that as he has had a full half-season with Leeds. He is certainly one who will be part of the squad.
“With Kei he trained with us the first time today, so we’re assessing him. He has done well in training, I have to say, but he is a little bit behind because of his travelling and where they are in the MLS domestic league at the minute.
“We’ll assess overnight and tomorrow. We have to make the right decision because we haven’t brought him for one or two games but through to the end of the season and it’s about the right impact he can make.
“Perhaps he hasn’t had the match practice that keeps you up to speed. That is all part of the assessment but we only have him for a short period of time.”
As for Monday’s under-21 match, Hughton admitted: “Yes, there is a possibility he will play in that game.”
Kamara does not need to convince Hughton about his character, though.
“He is a very good individual. That stems from the fact he is not a 20, 21-year-old who hasn’t seen a fair amount of life and football,” he said.
“He has been involved in a lot of charity work away from football. The first time I met him he was receptive and you can tell he is a good character which tells me he will settle in here very quickly.
“On the football side, he certainly will have attributes that we can use. We’ll find that out over a period of time.
“We have four forward players in Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson and the two new lads that we would like to think are different type players. It gives us good scope and allows us have good combinations. For those who don’t start it gives us a good option off the bench.”
City have not beaten tomorrow’s opponents for 27 years, and have painful memories of a 5-0 hammering at Craven Cottage on the opening day of the season.
But Hughton said: “That is a long time ago and there have been a lot of games since. After that bad first day we find ourselves on level points with Fulham. It is a long season, nothing is determined or gauged on one performance. There have been a lot of changes since then for both teams and that is one game that is well and truly behind us.
“At the start of the season, would we have been happy having the points we have and in a position we are in now? I think probably the answer is yes.
“You learn lessons from every game and every defeat. We have had a couple of big ones and we have had to re-group and improve and get better. That generally is what we have done on most occasions. You certainly learn more from the big defeats.”