Norwich City boss praises Russell
Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder praised the attitude of Darel Russell after the midfielder's surprise shift as a striker yielded him a double haul at the weekend. Russell has cracked Roeder's starting XI in only one of City's pre-season friendlies and looks increasingly likely to be sidelined when the new campaign begins at Coventry on Saturday.
Glenn Roeder praised the attitude of Darel Russell after the midfielder's surprise shift as a striker yielded him a double haul at the weekend.
Russell has cracked Roeder's starting XI in only one of City's pre-season friendlies and looks increasingly likely to be sidelined when the new campaign begins at Coventry on Saturday. But the first of his two goals in the 2-2 draw with Colchester was straight out of the top drawer, and had the City boss drawing comparison with some of the Premier League's biggest stars.
"If Berbatov, Ronaldo or Adebayor had curled that first one in everyone would be raving about what amazing things these foreign players can do with a ball," said Roeder. "Darel Russell has proved today that he can do it as well and I'm obviously pleased for him."
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Russell was a half-time replacement for Italian loan striker Arturo Lupoli, who was carrying a slight injury, and it was his willingness to play out of position that impressed his manager.
"I think he showed a great attitude," said Roeder. "I told him before the game that he would be coming on at half-time, probably as a striker, and that I expected him to show the sort of strong mentality that I expect from anyone that plays for Norwich. I know that's not his best position but I didn't want him to show any sort of rejection or bad attitude in being asked to play out of position and his first response was, 'fantastic, I just want to be out on the pitch. I want to play and if that's where you want me to play, that's fine'.
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"His last comment as he left the office was that he had actually played there as a youngster and watching him tuck those two goals away I believe him."
Russell's brace takes him to four for pre-season - top of the scoring charts - but that isn't expected to put him ahead of Lupoli in the pecking order. The 21-year-old passed a fitness test just an hour before the match, having picked up a groin problem, but Roeder is expecting big things.
"He is definitely going to cause defences trouble," he said. "He is an amazingly positive striker. If he gets faced up in the final third he is only looking for one thing and that's to get past the final defender and get his shot away.
"It will be thrills and spills with him this year. Sometimes it will be frustrating because the defender will stop him and other times it will be exciting because he has skipped past a defender and he will hammer the ball in the back of the net.
"He's a good lad to work with. He definitely has the Italian professionalism in him. He enjoys his training, he enjoys hard work and he put a lot of energy in that 45 minutes, but it was the right thing to do to take him off at half-time and not risk him irritating a next-to-nothing groin strain."
Colchester took the lead a minute before half-time, but Roeder gave his team an ear-bashing at the break and the tempo noticeably increased, although Russell's two goals in the space of three minutes around the hour mark were wiped out when the centre of City's defence froze and allowed Anthony Wordsworth to equalise.
"It was a good workout," said Roeder. "We started the game very well. In the opening 15 minutes we played with the tempo I wanted us to play with - lots of energy, lots of positive play, progressive play, playing forward when we could and completely on top and then for some reason we decided to play a slower game which is not the sort of football I am expecting them to play.
"Lee Clark and myself can play against that - and they got told that at half-time and they lifted the tempo and got back in the game - it's just disappointing we conceded a goal so soon after going 2-1 in front. Overall a good workout."
Roeder still wants three more new players on board, including the big striker City so obviously lack, but says the relatively meagre number of pre-season games played - four senior outings - was deliberate.
"We weren't able to have all the new players in on July 2 when we started back," he explained. "That was one of the reasons I chose to play only four first team games because there was little point in playing more when you only field half a team."