Play me on merit – Dion

David Cuffley Sentiment will not come into Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder's team selection when veteran striker Dion Dublin's two decades in football come to an end at Hillsborough tomorrow.

David Cuffley

Sentiment will not come into Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder's team selection when veteran striker Dion Dublin's two decades in football come to an end at Hillsborough tomorrow.

As the Canaries take on Sheffield Wednesday (2pm) in their final Coca-Cola Championship match of the season, Roeder insists he will pick the eleven he believes can win the game.

Whether that includes Dublin remains to be seen, but the 39-year-old said he wanted to start the game only on merit, and had not been told one way or the other.


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“I've no idea,” he said. “Obviously, I would like to start, but I'd like to start on merit, on what I can bring to the team, not because it's my last game.

“That's what I'm hoping the manager is going to do, but he has a team to pick and he's going to pick the team which he thinks is going to win the game and I hope I'm going to be one of those players.”

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A near full house of around 36,000, the biggest Championship crowd anywhere this season, including well over 4,000 City fans, should ensure a hothouse atmosphere for the popular centre-forward's farewell appearance before he starts a broadcasting career with Sky Sports in August.

“It will be great - one of the biggest crowds of the season. They have a lot to play for. We have a lot to play for. We're safe but it's not enough. We need to go out with a win,” said Dublin.

With that in mind, Roeder stressed: “I will pick what I think is the strongest team. I don't do any sentimentality - they are paid professionals. And Dion would not want that.

“I cannot believe Dion Dublin would want to start because it's his last game in football at 39 if he didn't think he had a right to start. I wouldn't want to. In fact, if I had the feeling that was why I was starting I'd have said no, I'd rather not start.

“Dion's got a winning mentality. He's played at the highest level, he's played for his country. The last thing Dion Dublin needs in what is going to be his last game in football is a leg up and a favour done. If he was to start he would have earned the right to start the game and for no other reason.”

Roeder also ruled out including untried youngsters in his squad for a match Wednesday may need to win to avoid dropping into League One.

“It will be the strongest 16 that we can get out, in my opinion,” he said.

With midfielder Kieran Gibbs' loan spell over, there is a midfield vacancy that Darel Russell could be favourite to fill.

Apart from long-term casualty Adam Drury, Roeder has a fully-fit squad to pick from.

Wednesday boss Brian Laws could recall midfielder Graham Kavanagh, on loan from Sunderland, after recovering from a hamstring problem, but will definitely be without Frank Simek and Richard Hinds, both out with ankle injuries, and joint leading scorer Marcus Tudgay, while club captain Lee Bullen is battling against a hamstring injury.

Roeder, meanwhile, shed no further light on which of his out-of-contract players will be staying or leaving.

“We'll be able to do that in one fell swoop on Tuesday and Wednesday, once the season has been completed,” he said.

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