Parting shot for Earnshaw

CHRIS LAKEY Robert Earnshaw packed his bags and headed for a new start in East Anglia with a stinging rebuke from his last manager ringing in his ears.


Robert Earnshaw packed his bags and headed for a new start in East Anglia with a stinging rebuke from his last manager ringing in his ears.

West Brom boss Bryan Robson was clearly not shedding any tears after Earnshaw signed a deadline day three-and-a-half year deal that could eventually cost Norwich City £3.5m. Robson claimed Earnshaw spurned an opportunity to withdraw his transfer request shortly before completing his move.

The Welshman withdrew from Robson's squad ahead of their game against Charlton to complete his move and although he had travelled down with the Albion players - leaving his car parked at The Hawthorns - he refused to retract his demand to leave the club, leaving the Baggies in the lurch just hours before the transfer window shut. Albion officials ran out of time before they could bring in a replacement.

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“You have to earn your place in the team and I didn't think Earnie did that for us this season,” declared Robson.

“He wants to play regular first-team football because he wants to impress his international manager.

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“It's his decision and I couldn't guarantee him first-team football every week.”

He added: “I had a word with Rob on Monday and asked him if he'd withdraw his transfer request. He said he wouldn't do that. I wanted him to fight for his place.

“But what I don't want at my football club is players who don't want to be here. If a player wants to leave then I don't want him around where it is all negative vibes.

“Southampton made an offer for him, but Norwich came in at the last minute and gave us the money we were after.”

Earnshaw earned his reputation as a free-scoring striker with Cardiff City, which launched his international career with Wales.

But a £3m move to The Hawthorns turned sour this season.

Having helped keep Albion in the top flight as Norwich went the other way, Earnshaw found himself playing second fiddle to Nathan Ellington, Geoff Horsfield and Kanu.

Robson restricted him to four Premiership starts and his only top-flight goal was after coming on as a sub in the 4-0 defeat of Everton in November - but refused to take the blame for the player's drought.

“He's scored one Premiership goal this term and that was coming off the bench,” said Robson.

“I needed to see more consistency in his performances for him to get in the team regularly - I didn't see that.”

Earnshaw was at The Madejski Stadium to see his new team-mates thumped 4-0 by runaway leaders Reading on Tuesday - and will be hoping to instigate a quick turnaround in fortunes when he lines up against derby opponents Ipswich on Sunday morning.

It's a match he can't wait for.

“It's going to be very exciting for me,” he said. “It's crazy it should be that fixture.

“This is a new chapter in my life to enjoy. I just want to go out there now and enjoy my football, it's as simple as that.”

And the message to Norwich fans looking for a spark in an increasingly depressing season was clear.

“I've always scored goals,” said Earnshaw. “I've always scored when I've been playing and I just hope it carries on. Norwich have given me that chance and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.”

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