Players are gagging for it
David Cuffley Norwich City supporters may be suffering a few jitters over their team's prolonged struggle to secure Championship football for another season - but the nervous tension has not spread to the players.
Norwich City supporters may be suffering a few jitters over their team's prolonged struggle to secure Championship football for another season - but the nervous tension has not spread to the players.
Manager Glenn Roeder said his squad had shown no signs of becoming edgy in the build-up to tomorrow's final home game of the season against Queen's Park Rangers at Carrow Road (3). Instead they can't wait to get on with the job.
Victory will guarantee survival for City, while a draw could be enough depending on other results. Defeat, however, would send them to Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday week for the last game of the campaign with their fate still undecided.
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“They have been terrific in training, spot on,” said Roeder. “They are gagging to play this game.”
Rangers, in mid-table, have completed their own recovery mission after making an even worse start to the season than City. They took just three points from their first eight games before their first victory, 1-0 at home to the Canaries in October in the game that proved to be Peter Grant's last as manager, a match Roeder saw on TV, little realising he would be in charge of the club three weeks later.
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He said: “I watched it and it was very disappointing. I didn't sit there thinking that the manager was going to lose his job, I was watching it purely as a supporter of football. It was a Sky game and I tend to watch as many of the Sky games as I can.”
There will be no live TV coverage this time as Roeder comes up against the club with whom he spent five years as a player - though he insists that will be the last thing on his mind.
“I look at all the clubs I played for with equal affection and it was an honour to play football for all of them,” he said.
“It was a long time ago and I led Queen's Park Rangers out in an FA Cup final, which was one of the biggest days of my life.
“But I will be looking at only one team - the team playing in yellow shirts and green shorts.
“The only thing we must concentrate on is winning the game and getting the points we need to be in the Championship next year.”
Defender Ryan Bertrand could be recalled if he shakes off the hamstring injury that forced him to miss last week's 2-1 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion.
“He has got a decent chance. He's training but we're taking it carefully with him,” said Roeder.
Also hoping for a recall will be midfielder Darel Russell and veteran striker Dion Dublin, making his farewell appearance at Carrow Road before retirement and a leading contender for the Player of the Season award to be presented 20 minutes before kick-off.
Midfielder Kieran Gibbs, recalled last Saturday, is available for the last time before his loan from Arsenal expires.